Mark Gurman’s New ‘Power On’ Newsletter ★
Mark Gurman, in the premiere edition of his newsletter for Bloomberg, Power On:
Let’s get right to the point: I wrote this newsletter on an iPad
Pro. That might not sound like some shocking revelation, but trust
me, I had all but relegated the tablet to video watching and light
gaming duties. Since this month’s release of the iPadOS 15 beta,
however, I’ve left my laptop mostly behind and have done the vast
majority of my work from the iPad.
Now I have even stronger feelings for what Apple Inc. needs to
change about the iPad — and it goes beyond software. It’s time
for a giant screen, one in the 14-inch to 16-inch range. I love
the speed, touchscreen, versatility and Magic Keyboard, but the
12.9-inch display is far too small for someone accustomed to a
16-inch MacBook Pro.
And I’m not the only one who thinks that: I’m told that Apple has
engineers and designers exploring larger iPads that could hit
stores a couple of years down the road at the earliest. They’re
unlikely for next year — with Apple’s attention on a redesigned
iPad Pro in the current sizes for 2022 — and it’s possible they
never come at all. But a big iPad would be the perfect device for
many people, including me, and would continue to blur the lines
between tablet and laptop.
I dig the conversational tone here. Gurman is, indisputably, the best and most accurate Apple rumor reporter. But his writing feels held back by Bloomberg’s restrictive house style for reporting. With this newsletter he’s freed from all the repetitive boilerplate about “people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because blah blah blah”.
As for bigger iPads, would a 16-inch iPad still be hand-holdable? If not, would it be in a true laptop enclosure? Or could they make it hand-holdable by making it even thinner?
‘Google’s Messaging Mess: A Timeline’ ★
Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:
Within that mess of product names are two core issues: Google’s
apparent love of launching new services and its inability to
combine products under one umbrella.
Competitors like WhatsApp demonstrate what the opposite approach
could be: a chat service tied to a user’s phone number that allows
for video and voice, all from one app. Or there’s Apple’s iPhone
approach, which ties email addresses and phone numbers to two
services: iMessage for text and FaceTime for audio and video.
Google keeps falling into the same cycle, though, one that has
repeated itself throughout the years. It’ll build out new
services, integrating them into more areas of its product lineup,
then try to wipe the slate clean, launch new services that
(eventually) replace the old set, and start the cycle anew.
Eye-opening to see it all laid out on a timeline like this. My first thought was that this exemplified my argument the other day about Google’s lack of institutional focus. But it sort of works against my argument that Sundar Pichai is shepherding Google in a more focused direction — a bunch of these false steps in messaging were under his leadership.
It really is quite a comparison to email, where Gmail was announced in 2004 — while Google was still a nascent company — and they haven’t wavered since.
Apple Mac Sales Triple in India After Apple Opened Online Store Last Year ★
Jingyue Hsiao and Joseph Tsai, reporting for DigiTimes:
Apple became the fifth largest PC brand in India in the first
quarter of 2021, with shipments of desktops, notebooks, tablets
and workstations combined to reach 208,000 units, according to
data from Canalys. Canalys pointed out that the significant
increase in Apple’s notebook and tablet shipments in India was due
mainly to Apple opening its online store in September 2020.
Research firm IDC’s figures also show Apple’s PC shipments in
India (excluding tablets) grew 335.5% on year in the first quarter
and only lagged Asustek’s by around 2,000 units.
iPhone sales in India are up too, but these numbers are about the Mac and (I think) iPads. A lot has changed for Apple in the last 20 years, but one thing remains unchanged: they sell more products when they have their own stores, online or physical.
Nilay Patel Interviews Satya Nadella on the Business of Windows ★
Satya Nadella, in a terrific, wide-ranging interview with Nilay Patel:
The other point is it also lives in an ecosystem. Let’s say
Windows has a billion users. So does Android. So does iOS. In
fact, Android and iOS will have more than a billion users perhaps,
or maybe Android has 2 billion, [and] maybe iOS is similar to
Windows’s size or what have you. But the reality is any Windows user — we have to start with the assumption that they have a phone and
that phone may be Android and iOS and we have to design for it.
I do think that operating systems are important, but they’re
important in so far as they compose with everything else that’s
part of my life, whether it’s other devices with other operating
systems, [or] whether it is clouds that I use, which are powering
some of the applications and experiences.
It’s a practical reality, really. Let’s meet Windows users
where they are, and meet their current needs and unmet,
I crack wise about the inelegance of Windows, but I do think that under Nadella, Microsoft knows what Windows is and what it’s supposed to be, and Windows 11 is exactly that. That’s a strength. That know thyself confidence comes across in this interview.
‘I Swallowed One of My AirPods’ ★
Bradford Gauthier, in The Guardian:
Heather drove me to the endoscopy centre, where the AirPod was got
back out via my mouth using a tube with a lasso attachment. It was
extremely uncomfortable, but I was sedated and so only half awake.
A few minutes later, I was given the AirPod in a neat little bag.
I tried it as soon as I got home. It works fine, although the
microphone is less reliable than it was. I’ll never know for
certain how I managed to swallow it; my theory is that it dropped
on to the pillow, ended up next to my mouth and got sucked in when
I yawned. In retrospect, I’m glad the “find my AirPod” attempt
didn’t work — I would have freaked out if my throat had beeped.
Takes (more than) a licking, keeps on ticking.
NYT: ‘Tech Giants, Fearful of Proposals to Curb Them, Blitz Washington With Lobbying’ ★
Cecilia Kang, David McCabe, and Kenneth P. Vogel, reporting for The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — In the days after lawmakers introduced legislation
that could break the dominance of tech companies, Apple’s chief
executive, Tim Cook, called Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members
of Congress to deliver a warning.
The antitrust bills were rushed, he said. They would crimp
innovation. And they would hurt consumers by disrupting the
services that power Apple’s lucrative iPhone, Mr. Cook cautioned
at various points, according to five people with knowledge of the
Ms. Pelosi pushed back on Mr. Cook’s concerns about the bills,
according to two people with knowledge of the conversations. When
Mr. Cook asked for a delay in the Judiciary Committee’s process of
considering the bills, Ms. Pelosi pushed him to identify specific
policy objections to the measures, said one of the people.
You don’t have to read the dateline to know which side this leaked from.
At the end of the article:
Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington and a
co-sponsor of the bills, said the lobbying is “making our case
that they have way too much power in terms of monopoly power and
in terms of money and politics.”
“Small business and consumers have no hope of competing with this
amount of money and power,” she said.
The fact that the companies are pushing back, and making their cases against the legislative proposals, is proof that they’re doing wrong? Maybe Jayapal’s quotes here are taken out of context, but if not, this is absurd. I mean of course a “small business” isn’t going to be able to compete against companies with trillion dollar market caps. And the core of the argument — from all of these companies, but Apple in particular — is that consumers aren’t being harmed at all by the status quo, and in fact would suffer if the legislation (particularly Jayapal’s bill) is passed.
Also, the Times’s capitalization of “Big Tech”:
Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen groups paid by Big Tech have tried to head off bipartisan support for six bills meant to undo the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
is embarrassing. They’re not a cabal. They’re in fact intense competitors — most of their relations are hostile (Apple-Facebook), and at best are frosty (Apple-Amazon).
Morgan Stanley Bans Unvaccinated Staff and Clients From New York Office ★
Paul R. La Monica and Rob McLean, CNN Business:
Morgan Stanley plans to ban workers from its New York headquarters
if they have not received a Covid-19 vaccine. The rule will apply
to non-vaccinated guests and clients as well.
Get vaccinated or stay home.
Newsstand 1.0 ★
This is absolutely delightful: Newsstand is a new Google News RSS reader ... for Mac OS 9. From creator Alex Robb:
I created Newsstand as a fun way to access the news on my vintage
Macs. I have a two Apple PowerBook G3 computers, but older
machines don’t work very well on the modern web. Their browsers
can’t load https websites, and vintage hardware can’t keep up with
the dynamic pages that make up the web today. I created Newsstand
in Mac OS 9 using tools only available at the time.
He even made the website on Mac OS 9.
As a sidenote, this is the best new app icon I’ve seen in years. Newsstand’s exquisite 3D icon is a jarring reminder of just how boring today’s flat icon aesthetic is.
OldOS: iOS 4 Rebuilt in SwiftUI ★
Holy hell this new project from Zane Kleinberg, a talented 17-year-old developer who just dropped this out of the blue yesterday. It’s available via TestFlight (the first one is full already, though) and as open source code you can build yourself.
It’s exquisitely well done, very fun to play with, and surprisingly usable. And what a remarkable testimony to the expressiveness of Swift UI.
Once you get past the surface aesthetic differences, it’s also interesting as a way to remember how many little things iOS has added over the years. iOS is so much richer now. You couldn’t do anything in list views back then. E.g., if you wanted to delete a note in Notes, you had to open the note and tap the Trash button. In a view hierarchy, you couldn’t go back just by swiping from the left edge of the display — you had to tap the Back button in the navigation bar at the top of the display. Going back to this simulacrum of iOS 4 reminds me of what it felt like going back to, say, System 6 (1988) after taking for granted all the various little things added to the Mac between then and Mac OS 8.6 (1999).
A decade is a long time. Even the 1990s — the most dysfunctional decade of Apple’s corporate existence — was a productive one for the Mac. Now, though, with Apple firing on all cylinders throughout the 2010s, iOS 4 feels joyful but crude, barren of small conveniences.
A Linus Torvalds Rant We Can All Get Behind ★
Linus Torvalds, on the Linux Kernel mailing list:
Please keep your insane and technically incorrect anti-vax comments to yourself.
You don’t know what you are talking about, you don’t know what mRNA
is, and you’re spreading idiotic lies. Maybe you do so unwittingly,
because of bad education. Maybe you do so because you’ve talked to
“experts” or watched youtube videos by charlatans that don’t know what
they are talking about.
But dammit, regardless of where you have gotten your mis-information
from, any Linux kernel discussion list isn’t going to have your
idiotic drivel pass uncontested from me.
A shrinking violet, as ever.
Our Long National HBO Max Apple TV Nightmare Is Over ★
At the end of last week we detailed an update to the HBO Max Apple
TV app that introduced a whole host of issues, making the app
almost unusable. Check out our article for the very long
list. The issues were so bad that HBO exec Andy Forssell even
addressed them in a reply to John Siracusa on Twitter.
Thankfully, HBO has now issued a software update that reverts the
playback UI to the original tvOS version. I’ve verified this in
the 50.30.2 update and can confirm everything is back to normal
from skipping ahead to asking Siri ‘What did they say?’ and
everything in between.
You make a mistake, you fix it as fast as you can. Kudos, HBO Max tvOS team.
Someone should send this to the new team behind the MLB app.
Blade Runner: The Animated Series ★
Fun work by Tom McWeeney.
Some New MacOS 12 Monterey Features Are Unavailable on Intel-Based Macs ★
Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:
On the macOS Monterey features page, fine print indicates
that the following features require a Mac with the M1 chip,
including any MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac
model released since November 2020:
- Portrait Mode blurred backgrounds in FaceTime videos
- Live Text for copying and pasting, looking up, or translating
text within photos
- An interactive 3D globe of Earth in the Maps app
- More detailed maps in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles,
New York, and London in the Maps app
- Text-to-speech in more languages, including Swedish, Danish,
Norwegian, and Finnish
- On-device keyboard dictation that performs all processing
- Unlimited keyboard dictation (previously limited to 60 seconds
Apple has not explained why any of these features are not
available on Intel-based Macs. For what it’s worth, Google Earth
has long offered an interactive 3D globe of the Earth on
Intel-based Macs both on the web and in an app.
I don’t think Apple has to explain. These features all clearly are built on code that uses features exclusive to Apple Silicon. E.g. for Portrait Mode in FaceTime, it uses the M1 imaging pipeline — the same thing that makes all FaceTime footage on the M1 MacBooks look so much better than on any Intel MacBook, even though the camera hardware is the same. The speech/dictation features on this list are surely using the Neural Engine, something Intel Macs don’t even have.
Digging Into Apple’s iCloud Private Relay ★
Good overview of one of this week’s biggest announcements from Dave Hamilton for The Mac Observer:
Apple’s iCloud Private Relay works similar to a VPN in that it
routes your traffic through other servers, hiding your IP address
from the websites you visit, and hiding your traffic from whomever
manages your local network. Where it differs is that a VPN is
generally just one server between you and the website you’re
visiting. With a VPN, your traffic takes the route of You ↔︎ VPN
Server ↔︎ Website. Private Relay adds another server to the
mix, which ensures that no one in the chain — not even Apple — can see the whole picture: You ↔︎ Apple’s Ingress Server ↔︎
Content Provider’s Egress Server ↔︎ Website.
This is, as Apple calls it in their “Get Ready for iCloud Private
Relay” WWDC Session on the topic, “Privacy by Design.”
Apple made specific mention that while the “Ingress Proxy” servers
are run by Apple, the “Egress Proxy” (aka the server which
communicates with the websites you visit) is not controlled by
Apple and is under the control of “a (trusted) content provider”.
This means that Apple doesn’t know what site(s) you’re visiting,
and the third-party content provider doesn’t know who you are.
I’m using this on both an iPhone and iPad running the new OS betas, and it doesn’t seem to slow anything down. I did run into a problem where initially, both devices were saying I needed to upgrade to a paid iCloud account to enable the feature in Safari (also for Mail’s new tracker privacy protection), even though I’ve got an Apple One family account. I “fixed” that by restarting both devices after poking around the iCloud section in Settings. Not a bad bug for a developer beta 1 — just figured I’d mention it here in case anyone else runs into it.
What’s New in the App Store Review Guidelines ★
Not a lot new this year, but this one jumped out to me:
5.1.1(v): Apps supporting account creation must also offer account deletion.
I don’t see how anyone could disagree that this is a good rule. There’s a lot to complain about in the App Store Guidelines but there’s also a lot that’s unambiguously pro-user.
My thanks to Quill for sponsoring last week at DF. Quill is a new messaging app for teams, made by people who love messaging — many of them grew up on IRC. Messaging is their favorite way to collaborate, but not if it’s overwhelming or disorganized. Unlike a lot of messaging platforms, Quill looks great — on both iOS and MacOS.
It’s a more deliberate way to chat. Try it for free.
Becky Hansmeyer: ‘A Few Thoughts on the Eve of WWDC’ ★
It’s not about giving in to every little demand being lobbed at them. It’s about collecting information, determining what the right thing to do is, and doing it the Apple Way. When Apple does that and does it right, the results are fantastic.
Let’s hope we see some of that Apple shine through this week.
Theme Parks and Public Parks ★
Good column (and video) from Joanna Stern on Apple’s “walled garden”. The people who use the term “walled garden” in this context typically do so as a pejorative. But that’s not right. Literal walled gardens can be very nice — and the walls and gates can be what makes them nice. That’s been a recurring theme in the testimony from Apple executives in the Epic trial. Asked about rules and limits on iOS that Epic presents as nefarious — nothing but tricks to lock users in — Apple witnesses typically responded by presenting them as features. That iOS is wildly popular not despite the “walls”, but because of them.
It’s a trade-off, for example, that anything you can install on iOS can be trivially uninstalled just by deleting the app icon from your home screen. The downside is that iOS doesn’t support any third-party ideas that would require system-level background agents or extensions. I can name dozens of great Mac utilities that I’d enjoy, if not love, on iOS, but which can’t exist on iOS because of the rules. That sucks. But those same rules mean there’s no way to mess up your iPhone or iPad by installing something you don’t like and which is difficult to uninstall. That’s great.
Better than “walled garden”, I like the comparison to theme parks. People love theme parks. Not everyone, of course, but a lot of people. They’re fun, safe, and deliver a designed experience. They’re also expensive, and the food, to put it kindly, generally sucks. Public parks are great too — in very different ways. We should have great public parks, and we should have great open computing platforms. But not every park should necessarily be public, and not every closed computing platform would be better off open.
HBO Max tvOS Update Breaks a Slew of Features ★
The bottom line is, the viewing experience in the HBO Max app is
now horrifically bad and almost unusable unless you’re planning
just to play and pause. If you need to do anything else, don’t get
your hopes up.
The fact that they completely broke fast-forwarding and rewinding is mind boggling. Those aren’t exactly obscure power user features. Just use the standard video player. I don’t know how this update shipped. (The worst part is, my wife and I are hooked on Mare of Easttown, and have been binging it all week. Really sucks not being able to do anything except play and pause.)
Internal Letter Circulates at Apple – and Leaks to The Verge – Pushing Back Against Returning to the Office ★
1,400 words to say they’d prefer a policy that allows teams within Apple to determine their own remote work policies. Good communication is to the point, and this is not to the point at all. No wonder the letter-writer(s) feel “unheard”. It’s hard to get through the whole letter, and if you do make it through, it reeks of self indulgence. Some serious ✊🍆 vibes. The “formal requests” at the end about employees with disabilities and the “environmental impact of returning to onsite [sic] in-person work” are such transparent pandering. (I have never once heard of Apple not doing whatever it takes not only to accommodate employees with any disability, but to make them feel welcome.)
And who are these people who took jobs at Apple not knowing the company’s on-site culture? Do they think Apple built a new $4 billion campus on a lark? Three days a week on site and two days remote is a huge change for Apple.
Given that these letters keep leaking to Zoe Schiffer at The Verge, I can’t help but think that the problem for Apple is that they’ve grown so large that they’ve wound up hiring a lot of people who aren’t a good fit for Apple, and that it was a mistake for Apple to ever hook up a company-wide Slack. Companies are not democracies, but the employees writing these letters sure seem to think Apple is one. It’s not, and if it were, the company would sink in a snap. Apple’s new “three days on site” policy wasn’t a request for comments — it was a decision — and Tim Cook’s company-wide letter already leaves room for individual teams to adjust it to their own needs.
Former Blogger Donald Trump’s Facebook Ban Extended at Least Two Years ★
Nick Clegg, VP of global affairs at Facebook:
We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in
exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the
time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are
applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts. Given the gravity of the
circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his
actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit
the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.
We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the
date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.
As part of this decision, Facebook is rescinding the special privileges heretofore extended to world leaders and political figures that largely exempted them from Facebook’s content policies on the grounds of “newsworthiness”.
New month, new cover art.
Dithering, of course, is the now year-old podcast from Ben Thompson (CEO) and yours truly (President). Two episodes per week, 15 minutes per episode. Not a minute less, not a minute more.
Sign up for now to hear post-WWDC-keynote thoughts on Tuesday morning. Subscriptions are just $5/month (good deal) or $50/year (great deal). And your subscription will work in every popular podcast app — now including Spotify, if that’s your bag, baby.
Free Mac utility from Andreas Hegenberg, developer of BetterTouchTool and BetterSnapTool:
KeyboardCleanTool is a super simple little tool which blocks all
Keyboard and TouchBar input.
In 2011 Apple rejected the app for the Mac App Store because
apparently it’s “not useful”, however I often use it to clean my
MacBook keyboard without producing annoying input.
I have also heard of people who use it to let their toddlers
pretend they work on a computer.
The app has been around for 10 years, but I don’t recall hearing of it before. It’s more useful than ever today, because modern MacBooks will power on with the press of any key on the keyboard. It used to be that you could wipe your keyboard clean while powered down, but Apple changed that a few years ago, apparently because a fair number of users were confused how to turn their MacBooks on, now that the power/Touch ID button has no power icon. (Joanna Stern and I talked about this on the most recent episode of The Talk Show.)
KeyboardCleanTool is a great solution.
Update: See also: Shaun Inman’s Little Fingers, a similarly-purposed utility that also blocks input from the mouse/trackpad.
Bing Censors Image Search for ‘Tank Man’, Even in U.S. ★
Joseph Cox, writing for Vice:
Bing, the search engine owned by Microsoft, is not displaying
image results for a search for “Tank man,” even when searching
from the United States. The apparent censorship comes on the
anniversary of China’s violent crackdown on protests in Tiananmen
Square in 1989. [...]
Bing displays ordinary, non-image search results for “tank man”
when searching from a U.S. IP address; the issue only impacts the
Images and Videos tabs. Google, for its part, displays both when
connecting from the same IP address.
Motherboard verified that the issue also impacts image searches on
Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, which both use Bing. Neither company
immediately responded to a request for comment.
George Orwell, 1984:
In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the
right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written
messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the
side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit
protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of
waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of
thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at
short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were
nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due
for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying
about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest
memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on
a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden
somewhere in the recesses of the building.
PDF Diff ★
Another Mac utility worth your attention: Alexander Jaehrling’s PDF Diff is a $20 app for comparing the text differences between two PDFs. Last July I asked:
What’s the best tool for diffing PDF files? Is it Acrobat? Tell me it’s not Acrobat. But if it’s Acrobat OK I’ll break a years-long streak and install Acrobat.
PDF Diff wasn’t out at the time, but I wish it had been. It’s the best tool I’ve found for this.
Craig Hockenberry’s Anti-Wish List for WWDC ★
Everyone has their wishlist for things they want to see on
Monday’s WWDC keynote. Here is my anti-wish list — things I do
not want to see. [...]
More multitasking gestures in iPad OS. Make multitasking
spatial, or make it stop. I hate user interfaces that are driven
More features in macOS that I’ll never use. It’s great as-is,
just fix bugs and everyone will be happy.
Dan Moren’s iPadOS 15 Wish List ★
Dan Moren, writing at Macworld:
Multitasking on the iPad is, to put it generously, a mess. Split
View and Slide Over, first introduced in 2015’s iOS 9 and refined
a couple of times over the years, have always had the feeling of a
band-aid slapped over a mortal wound. Their limitations (like the
dance of getting an app that’s not in your dock into Split View)
and awkward gestures (how many times have you activated Slide Over
when you meant to simply swipe) feel cumbersome, especially
compared to the multitasking we’ve always had on the Mac.
So I’m hoping that 2021 is the year that Apple finally cracks
multitasking on the iPad. I’m not sure exactly what that looks
like; there are those who argue for the wholesale transplant of
macOS’s windowing system, but that seems as though it might be
another imprecise fit borne out of convenience rather than actual
appropriateness. Fundamentally, though, the iPad has always been
built around the idea of one app on the screen at any time, and
it’s clear that simply won’t do in a world where people expect to
be able to run multiple apps at once.
It’s amazing how often I make a slide-over Safari “window” on iPad without wanting to. And then I’m stuck with a new Safari instance with no actual tabs. You can get into Slide Over inadvertently, and if you do, it’s hard to undo it. It’s like instantly creating detritus you need to clean up. iPadOS is the only GUI system I’m aware of that has “windows” that don’t have close buttons.
My wife uses her iPad Pro more than any other device. She loves it. But Slide Over was driving her nuts until I showed her how to turn it off. “Why is that on by default?” she asked.
Coleman Sweeney, the World’s Biggest Asshole ★
Fantastic ad from 2016 I somehow hadn’t seen until this week. Hilarious, and the humor plays directly into the ad’s effectiveness. Trust me, just watch.
(Via Jason Fried.)
WSJ: ‘Stack Overflow Sold to Tech Giant Prosus for $1.8 Billion’ ★
Ben Dummett, reporting for the WSJ:
Prosus said it struck a $1.8 billion deal to acquire Stack
Overflow, an online community for software developers, in a bet on
growing demand for online tech learning. [...]
Prosus, one of Europe’s most valuable tech companies, is best
known as the largest shareholder in Chinese internet and
videogaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. Listed in Amsterdam,
Prosus signaled its appetite for deal making when it sold a small
portion of its equity stake in Tencent in April for $14.6 billion.
The Stack Overflow deal ranks among Prosus’s biggest acquisitions.
Acquisition prices have skyrocketed since 2012, but still, that’s almost two Instagrams.
Sarah Perez, reporting for TechCrunch:
introduced a new section that says the social video app “may
collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from
its users’ content. This includes things like “faceprints and
voiceprints,” the policy explained. Reached for comment,
TikTok could not confirm what product developments necessitated
the addition of biometric data to its list of disclosures about
the information it automatically collects from users, but said
it would ask for consent in the case such data collection
Wonderful. Why don’t we just give you copies of the keys to our homes and our ATM PIN codes, too?
Many Vaccinated Transplant Recipients Remain at Risk for COVID ★
Candida Moss, in a column (RIP “op-ed”) for The New York Times:
What is receiving considerably less attention, however, is that
not everyone who is vaccinated will develop antibodies, and many
of those who don’t are at high risk for the most severe
consequences of Covid-19. As a kidney transplant recipient, I am
one of those people.
Until recently, immunocompromised people were excluded from
studies of the mRNA vaccines for Covid-19, but data from clinical
trials is beginning to emerge. A study of fully vaccinated kidney
transplant patients published in April by researchers at New York-
Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center
revealed that 75 percent of kidney transplant patients
studied did not develop measurable immunity after both doses of
the vaccine. A second study published by Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine researchers in May found that only
54 percent of fully vaccinated organ transplant recipients studied
had antibodies. The numbers are different, but both studies showed
that immunocompromised people had significantly reduced responses
to the mRNA vaccines.
I have “world’s smallest violin, playing just for you” levels of sympathy for anyone who has chosen not to get vaccinated and then gets sick. This guy, for example — a 33-year-old Colorado sheriff who filled his Facebook page with anti-vax nonsense about the vaccines causing third arms to grow out of foreheads, and his natural immune system being all he needed to protect himself. He caught COVID and died three weeks later.
But the unvaccinated are putting others at great risk — those who can’t get vaccinated (including children), or, as in Moss’s case, those for whom the vaccines don’t produce antibodies. Our overall nationwide rates are plummeting — thanks entirely to the vaccines — but the infection, hospitalization, and death rates among the unvaccinated are, in some states, still raging. Again, I have no sympathy for those at risk by choice — but profound sympathy for those still at risk with no choice.
It is shameful to choose not to get vaccinated.
Estimates for How Long Each State Will Take to Reach 70 Percent Vaccination Among Adults ★
The New York Times:
The United States is roughly on track to meet President Biden’s
goal of getting at least one Covid-19 shot into the arms of 70
percent of adults by July 4 — if the current vaccination pace
holds. But demand for vaccines has decreased in much of the
country in recent weeks, and the promising national numbers (about
63 percent of adults have received at least one shot) do not
reflect the uneven rates among states.
Even if the country as a whole reaches the national target, at
least 30 states probably will not. And a handful are unlikely to
reach the 70 percent mark before the end of the year, a New York
Times analysis shows, potentially prolonging the pandemic.
On the bright side, even our worst-performing states on COVID vaccination rates — Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Louisiana (one of these states is geographically unlike the others) — are all nearing 50 percent for adults. Even in the states seemingly most riddled with anti-vax nutters and “let’s wait and see” hesitants, over half of adults will soon be vaccinated. That’s pretty good. Most countries around the world would love to have Mississippi’s 44 percent rate.
In a members-only post today on his excellent Political Wire, Taegan Goddard wrote the following, regarding a “Happiness Index” poll showing Americans’ happiness reaching pre-pandemic levels:
Nearly everyone I meet — some of whom I haven’t seen in more than
a year — seems happier. This is almost entirely due to the
vaccines — and their highly efficient rollout across the country
over the last six months. Their development may be the greatest
scientific advance of our lifetimes.
I don’t think there’s any question about that. If it weren’t for these vaccines, we’d all still be cooped up. More people would be and would get sick. More people would have died and would die.
Instead, life is rapidly going back to normal. Fewer people are getting sick and far fewer are dying. All thanks to these amazingly effective and safe vaccines that were developed, tested, and mass-produced in about a year.
Apple Platform Security: Magic Keyboard With Touch ID ★
Apple’s Platform Security has a good page on the details of how Touch ID works with the new Magic Keyboard and Apple Silicon Macs:
The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID performs the role of the
biometric sensor; it doesn’t store biometric templates, perform
biometric matching, or enforce security policies (for example,
having to enter the password after 48 hours without an unlock).
The Touch ID sensor in the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID must be
securely paired to the Secure Enclave on the Mac before it can be
used, and then the Secure Enclave performs the enrollment and
matching operations and enforces security policies in the same way
it would for a built-in Touch ID sensor. Apple performs the
pairing process in the factory for a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
that is shipped with a Mac. Pairing can also be performed by the
user if needed. A Magic Keyboard with Touch ID can be securely
paired with only one Mac at a time, but a Mac can maintain secure
pairings with up to five different Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
So I was wrong in my article on “secure intent” this week — the Magic Keyboard With Touch ID does not contain its own local Secure Enclave. It pairs with the Secure Enclave in the Mac with which it’s paired. But this contradicts the Platform Security page about “secure intent”, which states: “the connection is a physical link — from a physical button to the Secure Enclave”. The Magic Keyboard With Touch ID has a wireless, not physical, link to the paired Mac’s Secure Enclave. This Platform Security guide page has details about how Apple makes that work securely.
The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and built-in Touch ID sensors are
compatible. If a finger that was enrolled on a built-in Mac Touch
ID sensor is presented on a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, the
Secure Enclave in the Mac successfully processes the match — and
I did not know this — nifty.
The 2021 Apple Design Award Finalists ★
Nice selection of apps and games from Apple. Some of the apps on the list that I’m familiar with: 1Password, Carrot Weather, Craft, Nova, Brief, (Not Boring) Weather, and Universe. Not one but two clever weather apps. Nova is the only app on the list that isn’t in the App Store.
My favorite inclusion, though, is Poolside FM, under the category “Delight and Fun”. There’s a lot of “delight and fun” on this list of finalists — again, Carrot Weather and (Not Boring) Weather — but Poolside FM’s entire point is delight and fun. As I wrote back in September, “To team Poolside: 🍸.”
Update 10 June: The winners.
Amazon Devices Will Soon Default to Sharing Your Wi-Fi With Other Nearby Amazon Devices ★
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica:
On June 8, the merchant, Web host, and entertainment behemoth will
automatically enroll the devices in Amazon Sidewalk. The new
wireless mesh service will share a small slice of your Internet
bandwidth with nearby neighbors who don’t have connectivity and
help you to their bandwidth when you don’t have a connection.
By default, Amazon devices including Alexa, Echo, Ring, security
cams, outdoor lights, motion sensors, and Tile trackers will
enroll in the system. And since only a tiny fraction of people
take the time to change default settings, that means millions of
people will be co-opted into the program whether they know
anything about it or not. The Amazon webpage linked above says
Sidewalk “is currently only available in the US.” [...]
Amazon has published a white paper detailing the technical
underpinnings and service terms that it says will protect the
privacy and security of this bold undertaking. To be fair, the
paper is fairly comprehensive, and so far no one has pointed out
specific flaws that undermine the encryption or other safeguards
being put in place. But there are enough theoretical risks to give
The instructions for opting out are easy, but this seems like something that ought to be opt-in, not opt-out. (My only Amazon device that’s plugged in is a first-generation Echo, which is too old for Sidewalk, so I don’t even see the preference setting in the Alexa app. Apparently the setting only appears if you have at least one eligible device — you can’t opt-out in advance.)
Canada Has Covidiots, Too ★
Bryce Hoye, reporting for CBC News:
Staff at Boundary Trails Health Centre are routinely hearing from
sick and unvaccinated patients who believe the pandemic is a hoax — some remaining defiant even on the brink of death.
“We hear this almost every day, and I know that’s startling,” said
Dr. Ganesan Abbu. “It’s difficult ... to know that almost 100 per
cent of our admissions have not been vaccinated.” [...]
“I’ve had two patients who have died and even right until the time
that they died, they didn’t believe that they had it,” Abbu said.
“It’s not as though we are trying to get the patient to
acknowledge that they have COVID before they die. These patients
are so much in denial, they are volunteering this information.”
A lot of these folks probably don’t believe in Darwinism, either, which I suppose is ironic.
Alibaba’s Popular Mobile Web Browser, UC Browser, Has ‘Incognito’ Mode That Isn’t Private at All ★
Thomas Brewster, writing for Forbes:
But the privacy pledges made by UCWeb are misleading, according to
security researcher Gabi Cirlig. His findings, verified for Forbes
by two other independent researchers, reveal that on both Android
and iOS versions of UC Browser, every website a user visits,
regardless of whether they’re in incognito mode or not, is sent to
servers owned by UCWeb. Cirlig said IP addresses - which could be
used to get a user’s rough location down to the town or
neighborhood of the user - were also being sent to
Alibaba-controlled servers. Those servers were registered in China
and carried the .cn Chinese domain name extension, but were hosted
in the U.S. An ID number is also assigned to each user, meaning
their activity across different websites could effectively be
monitored by the Chinese company, though it’s not currently clear
just what Alibaba and its subsidiary are doing with the data.
“This could easily fingerprint users and tie them back to their
real personas,” Cirlig wrote in a blog post handed to Forbes
ahead of publication on Tuesday.
Not what you want.
WWDC Highlights Through the Decades ★
Parker Ortolani, writing for 9to5Mac:
Every WWDC has its moments, but there are some moments in
particular that are impossible to forget. From earthshaking
announcements to retrospectively goofy quotes, there are so many
memories that bring a smile to our faces. As we approach WWDC
2021, let’s take a look back at some of those moments.
Even though WWDC technically started in 1990, let’s start where
things got interesting, which is in 1997. Apple was on the brink
and Steve Jobs had just returned to the company following the NeXT
Another reason to start in 1997: there’s not much video surviving from earlier WWDCs. What a remarkable compilation Ortolani has put together here.
Claim Chowder: Google Duplex ★
Three years ago Google announced a service called Duplex at their I/O conference. They also played purported demos of Duplex in action. I was highly skeptical, and cast doubt that the demos Google offered were legitimate. A lot of people gave me a lot of shit about my skepticism.
In a follow-up post, after Google provided a handful of journalists with a very limited hands-on demo, I wrote:
Right now it feels like a feature in search of a product, but they
pitched it as an imminent product at I/O because it made for a
stunning demo. (It remains the only thing announced at I/O that
anyone is talking about.) If what Google really wanted was just
for Google Assistant to be able to make restaurant reservations,
they’d be better off building an OpenTable competitor and giving
it away to all these small businesses that don’t yet offer online
reservations. I’m not holding my breath for Duplex ever to allow
anyone to make a reservation at any establishment.
Three years later and I’m still not holding my breath.
Update: Apparently Duplex has launched, but it’s unclear how often the AI system — not human operators — make the phone calls. Would love to hear some recordings of this in action.
Apple in the Enterprise: A 2021 Report Card ★
Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:
This year, we’re trying something new. Device-management startup
Kandji approached Six Colors to commission a new Report
Card, but with a focus on how Apple’s doing in large
organizations, including businesses, education, and government.
We worked with Kandji and the hosts of the Mac Admins
Podcast, Tom Bridge and Charles Edge, to formulate a set of
survey questions that would address the big-picture issues
regarding Apple in the enterprise. Then we approached people we
knew in the community of Apple-device administrators and asked
them to participate in the survey.
High marks for hardware quality and security/privacy, low marks for software reliability and deployment.
**See also: Snell is the guest on this week’s episode of the Mac Admins Podcast.