Linked List: September 2022

The Talk Show: ‘Double-Digit Domains’ 

Paul Kafasis returns to the show to talk about the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple Watch Ultra, AirPods Pro, and Rogue Amoeba’s 20th anniversary.

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Joanna Stern Tests Apple’s Car Crash Detection 

Joanna Stern, at The Wall Street Journal:

The key word is “severe.” In a video explaining the feature, Apple uses the word seven times. So I wanted to know, what is a severe crash? And where’s the line between severe and not-severe?

I crashed some cars to find out. Well, I didn’t crash them. Michael Barabe, a demolition-derby champion from Monroe, Mich., did. As you’ll see in my latest video, after failing to trigger the feature with bumper cars, my video producer Kenny Wassus and I found a way to bump real cars. (Safely, of course.)

Two wrecked cars and four deployed air bags later, we got Apple’s new marketing gem to work. But in order to trigger consistently and reliably, the system in both the phone and watch needs a lot of sensor data and other signals. And about that “s” word: From our tests, there appears to be a “severe” gray area between harmless crashes and deadly ones.

As soon as Apple announced this feature, I knew that Joanna Stern would do her best to test this. Like, within an hour of the keynote ending, I started pestering her that she should get the WSJ to foot the bill (of course) but let me drive the crash test car for her inevitable video. I was more than half serious.

Now that I see the footage ... I’m good, I’m really good, just watching the footage from my desk. Wow.

Shocker: Google Is Shutting Down Stadia 

Jay Peters and Alex Cranz, writing for The Verge:

Google is shutting down Stadia, its cloud gaming service. The service will remain live for players until January 18th, 2023. Google will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchased through the Google Store as well as all the games and add-on content purchased from the Stadia store. Google expects those refunds will be completed in mid-January.

“A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia,” Stadia vice president and GM Phil Harrison said in a blog post. “And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.” Employees on the Stadia team will be distributed to other parts of the company.

A lot of the speculation around Stadia was focused on the technology — streaming. But put that aside, and what to me has seemed clear all along is that Google was never particularly invested in making Stadia a serious platform. If you’re committed to the platform, the underlying technology doesn’t matter.

And there’s a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” factor — except instead of a little boy who lacks credibility, it’s one of the five largest corporations in the world. When Google next launches a platform, how much does this affect their credibility? Frankly, their credibility was already shit on this front. Here’s Jason Scott tweeting back in November 2019 when Stadia launched:

To celebrate the official launch of Google Stadia (@GoogleStadia) tomorrow, I have created a single-purpose website: STADIACOUNTDOWN.COM. It is a countdown timer set for the average lifespan of any Google service/product, which is 4 years.

This “4 years” statistic comes from the Google Cemetery (, a maintained list of Google services and products that have shut down over the years, over 150 of them and counting (20+ have shut down in 2019 alone).

The joke’s on Scott, because Stadia Countdown still has 413 days remaining.

At this point you’d be a damn fool to get excited about a new Google platform and think, “This is something great that I’ll be able to count on.”

Relay FM for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 

Today is the last day of September, and thus the last day of Relay FM’s annual fundraising drive for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude is simply an amazing institution: they both provide world-class treatment for kids with cancer free of charge and perform research to make those treatments better and more effective for patients around the world.

Relay FM:

Donors who make an individual gift of $60+ or $100+ will receive limited-time Relay FM rewards. See if your employer also offers a matching gift program here. After requesting a match or DAF distribution, fill out this form to have the gift credited to the Relay FM campaign.

Those matching employer funds are no joke, and a lot of companies offer them.

The Relay gang has blown past their goal once again, but as I type this, they’re just a hair short of $600,000 — all raised this month. Let’s give them the old DF boost and push their campaign way over the top. Take a few minutes right now and donate. It’s the best thing you’ll do all day.

NFT Trading Volumes Collapse 97 Percent From Peak Earlier This Year 

Sidhartha Shukla, reporting for Bloomberg:

Trading volumes in nonfungible tokens — digital art and collectibles recorded on blockchains — have tumbled 97% from a record high in January this year. They slid to just $466 million in September from $17 billion at the start of 2022, according to data from Dune Analytics. The fading NFT mania is part of a wider, $2 trillion wipeout in the crypto sector as rapidly tightening monetary policy starves speculative assets of investment flows.

I’m tempted to say this is the least surprising market collapse in memory, but it’s obviously coming as an unpleasant surprise to some people.

iOS 16.1 Beta Brings Adaptive Transparency to Original AirPods Pro 

Speaking of AirPods Pro, MacRumors also has a story today that first-generation AirPods Pro will be getting the new adaptive transparency mode with iOS 16.1, which is still in beta. This was announced during the keynote event this month as a feature for the second-generation AirPods Pro. Here’s how Apple describes the feature in the Settings app (where you can toggle it):

When Adaptive Transparency is enabled and you’re wearing both AirPods Pro, loud sounds you are exposed to will automatically be reduced.

I’ve been testing the new AirPods Pro for a few weeks now, and adaptive transparency is my favorite feature. As promised, full-on noise cancellation is much-improved with the second-gen AirPods Pro, but I’ve hardly used noise cancellation with them because adaptive transparency is so damn good for my typical scenario, walking around the city while listening to podcasts.

I’ll be interested to see (well, hear) how well the feature works on the first-gen models.

Update 4 October: Turns out it was just a bug that the Adaptive Transparency toggle was enabled for first-gen AirPods Pro. Makes sense — according to Apple, the feature requires the brand-new H2 chip.

2nd-Gen AirPods Pro Case Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting 

Sami Fathi, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods Pro, that engraving is now reflected on the digital case on iOS as a user pairs and connects their AirPods Pro.

What a cool little feature. It’s not just hardware meeting software, but hardware and software meeting operations and the supply chain. Just for a little fun.

Daring Fireball Weekly Sponsorship Openings 

September and October are usually the busiest months of the year, for the obvious reason that it’s the season when Apple holds its biggest product announcements of the year. But I haven’t mentioned these openings for a while, and I’ve still got a few openings for weekly sponsors this month — including this current week and next week.

Get in touch if you have a product or service to promote to DF’s audience. And remember that weekly sponsorships include the graphic ad in the sidebar of every page of the site.

Jason Snell’s iPhone 14 Pro Review 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

The biggest single hardware upgrade in the iPhone 14 Pro is the main camera, which now has a 48-megapixel sensor, four times the pixels of the iPhone 13 Pro. Apple has for years said (accurately) that counting megapixels is not enough when it comes to measuring the quality of a camera, and the 12MP camera in the iPhone 8 is indeed a far cry from the 12MP camera in the iPhone 13 Pro.

True to its word, Apple has taken its flashy 48MP sensor and made its default mode… a 12-megapixel image. The idea is that Apple’s new “quad-pixel sensor” allows it to gather light from four separate pixels and then combine them to create a 12MP image with superior results, especially in low-light situations. And yes, I saw much less noise in images generated in 12MP mode.

But Apple’s decision is still somewhat puzzling. While you can get a 48-megapixel image out of the iPhone 14 Pro, you have to do it by turning on RAW capture in the Settings app. These RAW captures are slow — it takes a second or more for the camera to be available to take another shot after you snap one — and they’re huge (80 to 100 MB each). But they are also, especially in bright light, spectacularly detailed. Yes, they can be a little noisy, but with a little work in a RAW photo editor (I used Adobe Lightroom Classic), I was able to make great-looking images that had amazing levels of detail the likes of which I’d never been able to do on an iPhone before.

Snell includes a bunch of interesting side-by-side examples in his review. I won’t quite argue that Apple was wrong not to include a 48 MP JPEG shooting mode, but it does seem like shooting RAW on the iPhone 14 Pro produces more impressive results than with previous iPhone generations. This new main camera sensor is impressive.

Testing the iPhone 14 Pro’s 48MP ProRAW Camera Mode 

Mark Spoonauer, writing for Tom’s Guide:

The 48MP camera in ProRAW mode is very impressive, especially if you want to potentially zoom in or crop an image after a fact to reframe your shot. And we really only tested one aspect of ProRAW here.

Overall, the photos shot in ProRAW mode offer more realistic, life-like contrast — particularly in the shadows — and feature fewer digital artifacts. There’s less sharpening by the iPhone’s camera software, and the images keep a broader dynamic range for making edits later. (This might also result in some of haziness and exposure differences that crept into a few of the above samples.)

Some amazing side-by-side examples in this piece.

The Design of Audio Hijack 4 

Neale Van Fleet, writing for the Rogue Amoeba blog:

Audio Hijack 4 is a kinetic app, with subtle animations to aid in understanding. The tiles and wires move, meters bounce, and status icons pulsate to show when things are in action. I’m proud of all these animations, but there are two particular bits I want to call out.

First up are the amazing animations on the connecting wires. While the previous version’s wires could occasionally look somewhat soft, Audio Hijack 4’s wires are all drawn with vectors, so they’re super sharp. They’re also beautifully curved and feel incredibly snappy as you drag blocks around.

I do love these design breakdowns. I’ve noticed so many nice little details in Audio Hijack 4, but I learned a bunch more from reading this post. Just the way that nodes inside a session snap into place on the canvas — it makes Audio Hijack a pleasure to use.

Rogue Amoeba’s 20th Anniversary 

Speaking of Rogue Amoeba, here’s Paul Kafasis:

20 years ago this month, Rogue Amoeba unveiled Audio Hijack 1.0, the very first version of what has become our flagship product. To celebrate that anniversary, we’ve got a great deal to share with you. But first, take a gander at what things looked like way back on September 30, 2002.

Worth reading the post just for that screenshot alone.

Speaking of celebrating, we also thought we’d use this occasion to provide a very special discount. You may know that we seldom run sales on our products, instead striving to offer them at fair prices every day of the year. However, we figured that temporarily providing an even lower price would serve as a small way of saying thanks to existing customers, and help new users join the fold as well.

Through the end of September, everyone can save 20% on every purchase from Rogue Amoeba, in honor of our 20 years in business.

Here’s to 20 more years.

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1 

Joe Rossignol:

To test the feature with an iPhone on the iOS 16.1 beta, open the TV app and tap on the “Follow” button for a supported game. At launch, Apple says the feature is available for MLB games for users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and South Korea, in addition to NBA and Premier League games for users in the U.S. and Canada only. The feature will likely be expanded to other sports leagues in the future.


My thanks to Warp for sponsoring last week at DF. Warp is a blazingly fast, Rust-based terminal reimagined from the ground up to work like a modern app. Warp’s input area is a real text editor so users can use IDE keyboard shortcuts to write commands. It groups command input and output together so users can navigate easier and copy-and-paste each output quickly.

Warp also enables faster command entry through AI-assisted command search and shareable templated workflows for hard-to-remember commands.

Warp works with bash, zsh, and fish and requires zero config. It just works out of the box with the terminal command you already know and use. Warp is completely free and available today for the Mac.

Watch Baseball History on Apple’s Friday Night Baseball 

Future Yankees captain Aaron Judge is sitting at 60 home runs on the season. The legitimate single-season record belongs to Yankees legend Roger Maris at 61. What a game for Apple to land on Friday Night Baseball.

The Talk Show: ‘Fluent Cupertinoese’ 

Nilay Patel returns to the show to talk about Apple’s “Far Out” event, the iPhones 14, and The Verge’s redesign.

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Tweaked Battery Percentage Display in Status Bar in iOS 16.1 Beta 2 

Federico Viticci has some screenshots showing the tweaked battery-with-digital-percentage display in 16.1 beta 2. In 16.0, you could either have the remaining charge displayed graphically, as a “meter” within the battery icon, or digitally, as a numeric percentage. What people want, though, is what 16.1 beta 2 does: both at the same time.

(You be you, of course, but I do not display the remaining battery charge as a numeric value on my iPhone. I find it stressful. A general idea of the remaining battery life, as provided by the graphical meter alone, is all I need or want when looking at the status bar. If I really want to see the precise charge, I just pull down for Control Center. Try keeping the numeric percentage off — you don’t need the stress.)



ForecastAdvisor will show you the accuracy of the major weather forecasters, including Accuweather, AerisWeather, Foreca, the National Weather Service, Open Weathermap, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, Wetter, World Weather Online, and Weather News. We also provide links to your city’s weather forecast from all the other weather forecasters, so you can compare for yourself.

The overall accuracy percent is computed from the one- to three-day out accuracy percentages for high temperature, low temperature, icon forecast precipitation (both rain and snow), and text forecast precipitation (both rain and snow). Temperature accuracy is the percentage of forecasts within three degrees. Precipitation accuracy is the percentage of correct forecasts. The forecasts are collected in the evening each day.

One knock against the aforelinked new weather app Mercury Weather — it uses OpenWeather for its forecast data, and OpenWeather is meh at best for accuracy. ForecastAdvisor will let you plug in any zip code and give you historical data for forecast accuracy by service. Neat idea.

Mercury Weather 1.0 

Delightful new weather app for iPhone and Apple Watch. If you, like me, miss the infographic-based layout of the late great Weather Line, I dare say you must check out Mercury Weather. Great presentation, and I’m particularly digging the dearth of settings. No need to dick around trying to choose from a dozen themes or layouts. Mercury is opinionated — its creators (Kai Dombrowski and Malin Sundberg of Triple Glazed Studios) have decided how it should look, and they’ve knocked it out of the park.

Free to try, with a Premium subscription to unlock widgets, the WatchOS app, historical data, and more. $2/month or $10/year — cheap!

(My one and only complaint is that they also offer a $35 lifetime unlock for Premium. I want great apps like Mercury to thrive for a decade or longer. I subscribed to Mercury on the annual plan, and I’ll be happy to spend more over the years if it helps the app succeed long-term. I give a thumbs-down to any “lifetime” subscription that costs less than 10× the annual plan, and even then I’m skeptical.)

The Last Person Standing in the Floppy Disk Business 

Tom Persky, owner of, in an interview with Niek Hilkmann and Thomas Walskaar for AIGA’s Eye on Design:

In the beginning, I figured we would do floppy disks, but never CDs. Eventually, we got into CDs and I said we’d never do DVDs. A couple of years went by and I started duplicating DVDs. Now I’m also duplicating USB drives. You can see from this conversation that I’m not exactly a person with great vision. I just follow what our customers want us to do. When people ask me: “Why are you into floppy disks today?” the answer is: “Because I forgot to get out of the business.” Everybody else in the world looked at the future and came to the conclusion that this was a dying industry. Because I’d already bought all my equipment and inventory, I thought I’d just keep this revenue stream. I stuck with it and didn’t try to expand. Over time, the total number of floppy users has gone down. However, the number of people who provided the product went down even faster. If you look at those two curves, you see that there is a growing market share for the last man standing in the business, and that man is me.

Ross Young Expects Dynamic Island to Expand to All iPhone 15 Models 

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

In a tweet, Young said he expects the Dynamic Island to be available on the standard iPhone 15 models next year. However, he still does not expect the standard iPhone 15 models to be equipped with an LTPO display, suggesting that the devices will continue to lack ProMotion support and an always-on display option like Pro models have.

Young is juiced in to the display supply chain, so maybe my speculation that Dynamic Island would remain exclusive to devices with ProMotion displays is off — and thus my idea that the Dynamic Island might remain iPhone Pro exclusive for a few years.

Annoying iOS 16 Copy and Paste Prompts Are, Seriously, a Bug Not a Feature 

Sami Fathi, reporting for MacRumors:

As user annoyance with the behavior boils high, Apple has finally responded, saying the constant pop-up is not how the feature is intended to work. MacRumors reader Kieran sent an email to Craig Federighi and Tim Cook, complaining about the constant prompt and advocating for Apple to treat access to the clipboard the same way iOS treats third-party access to location, camera, microphone, and more.

Ron Huang, a senior manager at Apple, joined the email thread saying the pop-up is not supposed to appear every time a user attempts to paste. “This is absolutely not expected behavior, and we will get to the bottom of it,” Huang said. Huang added that this behavior is not something Apple has seen internally but that Kieran is “not the only one” experiencing it.

I don’t know what triggers this bug, but I haven’t seen it. My best guess is that it’s somehow because I’ve been living on iOS 16 betas since late July, and moved that backup over to the new phone when I was setting it up. However I avoided it, I’m thankful, because it sounds annoying as hell.

Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that an iOS update with a fix — along with fixes for a few other common bugs — will be coming next week.

iPhone 14 Is More Easily Repaired Than Previous iPhones 

Kyle Wiens, writing for iFixit:

The best feature of the iPhone 14 is one that Apple didn’t tell you about. Forget satellite SOS and the larger camera, the headline is this: Apple has completely redesigned the internals of the iPhone 14 to make it easier to repair. It is not at all visible from the outside, but this is a big deal. It’s the most significant design change to the iPhone in a long time. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models still have the old architecture, so if you’re thinking about buying a new phone, and you want an iPhone that really lasts, you should keep reading. [...]

Enter the iPhone 14. The back glass is simply secured with two screws and a single connector. Apple has seemingly used a slightly less aggressive adhesive, making opening it up a tad easier than screens of yore. And as a bonus, removing the exact same screws as the back glass gets you access to the screen. Just two screws, and both screen and back glass are immediately accessible. Incredible.

This is a very clever design, and without question good news. The fact that this new design is exclusive to the non-pro iPhone 14 models also shows just how different they are from the iPhones 14 Pro. Not just different chips, cameras, and materials — altogether different hardware designs, too.

Hit the Island 

Especially fun when you recall that the two Steves had been commissioned by Atari to create Breakout.


My thanks to iMazing for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball. iMazing is a native Mac — and Windows — app that enhances local management of iOS and iPadOS devices with powerful and convenient features beyond what Apple provides in its own desktop tools.

iMazing has been in active development for 15 years, and I’ve personally been a user, I think, since the beginning. They’ve got too many features to list here — follow the link and see for yourself. Then download iMazing and try it yourself. They’re offering 40 percent off for DF readers, this week only.

(Business customers: iMazing has the only Supervision solution for Windows, the most powerful local provisioning tool for Mac, and the best Apple Configuration Profile editor on the market.)

TechCrunch: ‘Google Cancels Half the Projects at Its Internal R&D Group Area 120’ 

Sarah Perez, reporting for TechCrunch:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, speaking at the Code Conference last week, suggested the tech company needed to become 20% more efficient — a comment some in the industry took to mean headcount reductions could soon be on the table. Now, it seems that prediction may be coming true. TechCrunch has learned, and Google confirmed, the company is slashing projects at its in-house R&D division known as Area 120.

The company on Tuesday informed staff of a “reduction in force” that will see the incubator halved in size, as half the teams working on new product innovations heard their projects were being canceled. Previously, there were 14 projects housed in Area 120, and this has been cut down to just seven. Employees whose projects will not continue were told they’ll need to find a new job within Google by the end of January 2023, or they’ll be terminated. It’s not clear that everyone will be able to do so. [...] TechCrunch learned of the changes from a source with knowledge of the matter. Google confirmed the changes in a statement.

Perhaps they should rename it “Area 60”?

Adobe to Acquire Figma for $20 Billion 

Adobe press release:

Today, Adobe announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Figma, a leading web-first collaborative design platform, for approximately $20 billion in cash and stock. The combination of Adobe and Figma will usher in a new era of collaborative creativity. [...]

Figma’s mission is to help teams collaborate visually and make design accessible to all. Founded by Dylan Field and Evan Wallace in 2012, the company pioneered product design on the web. Today, it is making it possible for everyone who designs interactive mobile and web applications to collaborate through multi-player workflows, sophisticated design systems and a rich, extensible developer ecosystem. Figma has attracted a new generation of millions of designers and developers and a loyal student following.

Figma’s breakthrough is that it was the first web-app to establish itself as a leading tool for professional designers. It’s hard to overstate how profoundly Figma disrupted Adobe’s status as the undisputed leader in design tools, because Figma made collaboration a first-class part of its workflow. Adobe has had many competitors over the decades, but Figma was the first that seemingly was reducing Adobe’s relevance to professional designers. I don’t think this acquisition was driven by revenue so much as by relevance.

Now, well, Adobe’s status goes back to undisputed. I’m sure they won’t screw Figma up.

‘Live, on Tape, at Apple Park’ 

I don’t want to get too circular, but here’s Jason Snell, linking to my piece today on last week’s event, regarding the pre-filmed format of the keynote:

What Apple loses in going entirely pre-taped is that frisson of excitement that comes from knowing that something could go wrong because it’s all happening live. It also loses the live-show dynamic of a bunch of Apple employees and invited guests applauding and cheering in the front rows of the theater, making the show seem a little more important, sort of like filming a sitcom in front of a live studio audience in order to import in some laughter and applause.

I didn’t think about it until reading this just now, but in person, there’s a lot less applause in the audience now for these filmed keynotes. That was true at WWDC, too, but it was really noticeable in the Steve Jobs Theater. Employees and other attendees did break into applause multiple times, but they had to cut their applause short because the keynote film is edited for the streaming experience, and sustained applause would cause everyone in the theater to miss the next lines.

From my (literal) perspective this is an improvement to the in-Steve-Jobs-Theater experience. I get it why Apple employees in the audience have always applauded so vigorously, and I get it why Apple has always made sure the audience has plenty of Apple employee ringers in the seats. It was fantastic fun in particular at the 2018 MacBook Air/iPad Pro event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when Apple invited hundreds of retail employees from around the country to be in the audience. Their enthusiasm was both genuine and contagious. But it’s always seemed a little incongruous that ostensibly professional press events doubled as in-company launch celebrations.

And it’s even more different for the zillions of people who only watched last week’s keynote from home (or, of course, work): there was applause inside SJT, but none of you heard it.

Casio’s Pro Trek Biomass PRG300 

Apple Watch Ultra isn’t going to just make watches like this one disappear. Watches are a weird market. (Or perhaps better said, watch buyers are weird consumers.) Watches very much are tech products, but unlike almost anything else, people buy watches for nostalgic feelings. And an old-school LCD digital watch with a chunky design and lots of hardware buttons evokes those feelings for many people.

But man, Apple Watch Ultra makes this thing look silly in so many ways.

The Overlook Hotel in Lego 

Terrific work. At a glance, the men’s room and Colorado Lounge look like stills from the film.

Google Pixel Popularity 

Re: my question earlier today asking what’s the best new consumer product from Google in recent years, their Pixel phones came to mind as my personal answer. I last bought a Pixel 4; I might buy a Pixel 7 this fall. But while successful, in some sense, that success is clearly very much as a niche product. I’m linking here to a story from Ars Technica a few weeks back about Pixel market share hitting ... 2 percent in North America:

That sounds incredibly successful, but this is Google’s tiny hardware division we’re talking about, so it’s all relative success. The company is now at 2 percent North American market share, having shipped 800,000 devices for Q2 2022. Along with last quarter, Google is now regularly hitting whole-digit market share numbers. That’s good enough for fifth place, behind Apple (52 percent), Samsung (26 percent), Lenovo/Motorola (9 percent), and TCL (5 percent).

When you need to more than double your market share to catch TCL, you don’t exactly have a hit product line on your hands. 2 percent market share in North America is not a Google-scale success story. Yet the Pixel phones really do seem to me to be the most interesting consumer products (or services) Google has released in years.

Diffusion Bee 1.0: Easy to Install Stable Diffusion for Apple Silicon Macs 

Divam Gupta:

Diffusion Bee is the easiest way to run Stable Diffusion locally on your M1 Mac. Comes with a one-click installer. No dependencies or technical knowledge needed.

Runs locally on your computer no data is sent to the cloud (other than request to download the weights and checking for software updates).

Stable Diffusion is the hot new AI image generator that you can download and run on your own computer. It’s been a bit tricky to get running on Apple Silicon Macs, because (among other factors) the Python situation is complex. Diffusion Bee makes it as easy as downloading a disk image and copying an app to your Applications folder.

Be warned if — like me — you have a busy week ahead. These AI image generators can be a real time sink.

‘Google Employees Alarmed That the Company Suddenly Expects Them to Do Work’ 

Maggie Harrison, writing for The Byte last month:

The company is clearly pushing its workers to increase productivity. In an all-hands meeting a few weeks ago — shortly after disappointing quarterly earnings were announced — CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly told employees that “there are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have,” and “we should think about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar on both product excellence and productivity.”

While Google has yet to announce any workforce cuts, its Googlers are worried that performance ratings might inform any pending layoff announcements. And considering that a screenshot obtained by Insider reportedly showed a manager explaining that if next quarter sales “don’t look up, there will be blood on the streets,” those fears, uh, definitely check out.

Month-old story, but I hadn’t seen it until today. Just as a quick “does this ring true?” check: When’s the last time Google came out with a major new product or update to an existing product? From a consumer perspective, it really does seem to me that they’ve stagnated.


My thanks to Retool for sponsoring last week at DF. Programming hasn’t fundamentally changed in a long time. Building an app usually means searching for the right component library, debugging dependencies, rewriting a lot of boilerplate code, and figuring out where to deploy. Everything but solving the problem at hand.

Retool is a new approach: they’ve unified the ease of visual programming with the power and flexibility of real code. Connect to any database or API. Drag-and-drop a UI while simultaneously live programming it. Deploy instantly and scale as you grow.

Customers use Retool to solve business problems 10× faster: Plaid uses Retool to manage integration product support. Amazon uses Retool to handle GDPR requests. You too can use it to manage users and orders, analyze data, run dev ops, or build any business-critical application.

Teams of up to 5 can now build unlimited apps for free on Retool. Start building faster today.

Garmin Reacts to Apple Watch Ultra: ‘We Measure Battery Life in Months. Not Hours.’ 

Bye-bye Garmin.

The Steve Jobs Archive 

This new site, launched by Jobs’s family and friends, is just lovely. So simple, so moving.

Update: The serif typeface for the site is one of LoveFrom’s bespoke fonts, suggesting, unsurprisingly, that Jony Ive was deeply involved in the design.

Ben Thompson: ‘The Services iPhone’ 

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratechery:

The most surprising announcement of all, though, were the prices. Everything stayed the same! This was not what I, or close followers of Apple like John Gruber, expected at all. After all, Apple’s strategy the past several years seemed to be focused on wringing more revenue out of existing customers. More importantly, the last year has seen a big increase in inflation.

What this means is that in real terms Apple’s products actually got cheaper. Apple did, to be sure, raises prices around the world, but this is better explained by the fact the company runs on the dollar, which is the strongest in years; to put it another way, those foreign prices are derived from the U.S. price, and that price stayed the same, which means the price is lower.

Jason Snell: ‘Underestimating Apple’s Bold Moves’ 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

Which brings us to the Dynamic Island, a stark reminder about the limits of rumors emerging from Apple’s hardware supply chain. Everyone who reported on the size and shape of the new cutouts on the iPhone 14 Pro models was absolutely right — and yet couldn’t see the forest for the trees. The cutouts were only the start of the story.

Leaks from inside Cupertino are a lot harder to come by. And so we missed the bigger picture, which is that Apple took the reduced size of its sensor cutouts as an opportunity to redesign a big portion of the iOS interface. (Remember, it’s been five years since the iPhone X introduced the stable peninsula that we call the notch. That was the first cut at this sort of interface; the company’s had half a decade to think about its next move.)

It was pretty fun that so much hadn’t leaked about yesterday’s news, and the Dynamic Island is at the top of that list.

‘4.2 Gigabytes, Or: How to Draw Anything’ 

Andy Salerno:

Yes, I’m waxing poetic here. No, I am not heralding the arrival of AGI, or our AI overlords. I am simply admiring the beauty of it, while it is fresh and new.

Because it won’t be fresh and new for long. This thing I’m feeling is not much different from how I felt using email for the first time - “Grandma got my message already? In Florida? In seconds?” It was the nearest thing to magic my child-self had ever seen. Now email is the most boring and mundane part of my day.

There is already much talk about practical uses. Malicious uses. Downplaying. Up playing. Biases. Monetization. Democratization - which is really just monetization with a more marketable name.

I’m not trying to get into any of that here. I’m just thinking about those 4.2 gigabytes. How small it seems, in today’s terms. Such a little bundle that holds so much.

Exploring 12 Million of the 2.3 Billion Images Used to Train Stable Diffusion’s Image Generator 

Andy Baio:

One of the biggest frustrations of text-to-image generation AI models is that they feel like a black box. We know they were trained on images pulled from the web, but which ones? As an artist or photographer, an obvious question is whether your work was used to train the AI model, but this is surprisingly hard to answer. [...]

So, with the help of my friend Simon Willison, we grabbed the data for over 12 million images used to train Stable Diffusion, and used his Datasette project to make a data browser for you to explore and search it yourself. Note that this is only a small subset of the total training data: about 2% of the 600 million images used to train the most recent three checkpoints, and only 0.5% of the 2.3 billion images that it was first trained on.

Jonathan Pie on Liz Truss, Britain’s New Prime Minister 

The New York Times:

Caught in a swirl of crises and feeling abandoned by their government, Britons are angry.

To capture this, we turned once again to the fictional broadcast journalist Jonathan Pie, performed by Tom Walker. In the satirical Opinion video above, he takes viewers on a tour of a broken Britain and argues that Ms. Truss is not well equipped to fix it.

Status Hero 

My thanks to Status Hero for sponsoring this week at DF. Status Hero automatically collects brief daily check-ins from your entire team so you know what’s going on, who is blocked, and more. See activity from all of the tools your team already uses in one real-time feed. Status Hero works inside Slack, Microsoft Teams, SMS, email, and the web. Status Hero is enterprise-ready but also great for small teams.

Teams that use Status Hero are more aligned, less blocked, and just make more steady progress on goals that matter. Try it free for 21 days with no credit card required.

‘Democrats Want to Outlaw Apple From Thinking Differently’ 

Speaking of USB, here’s Louis Anslow, writing last month for The Daily Beast, on Democratic proposals to follow the EU’s lead and mandate USB-C charging ports:

Regulation is about predictability and familiarity, bringing order out of chaos. Thinking similar. Innovation is about unpredictability and unfamiliarity, it is about thinking differently. Creativity loves constraints, but it doesn’t love rules. When regulations mandate means, rather than ends, they create a box which to think outside of is prohibited by law.

All lawmakers should acknowledge this tension and dynamic.

Proponents of the EU’s USB-C charging port mandate speak as though bringing order out of chaos is still a problem to be solved in the mobile phone world, like it was 15 years ago. It’s not. Market forces generally work, and in the case of charging ports, they have: there are only two meaningful phone charging ports today, USB-C and Lightning. There is no chaos. There are good arguments for Apple to switch the iPhone to USB-C (high-speed data transfer, particularly for the 4K video footage iPhones have long been capable of, being at the top of the list), and good arguments against (zillions of iPhone owners with zillions of existing Lightning cables). But that should be for Apple to decide.

Charging-port-regulation proponents often tell me the regulations are no impediment to progress at all. If someone comes up with a better-than-USB-C charging port, they can just bring it to the industry’s USB consortium and it’ll get approved and then all devices will use that new superior charging port. But that’s not how industry consortiums actually function. What actually happens is that consortiums entrench the current standard, because most companies have no interest in raising the state of the art. If they can just drag their feet and keep using what everyone is required to also use so long as they drag their feet, they’ll drag their feet.

And why mandate that any new port be an industry standard? If some company comes up with the next breakthrough like Lightning was in 2012, why disallow them from keeping their own invention as a proprietary advantage? It was the existence of Lightning that prompted the USB-C connector to even exist. Prior to Lightning, USB connectors were both unidirectional (one side was up, the other down) and ungainly. Competition works, and technical progress is inevitable, but the EU’s mandate — which some Democrats foolishly want to copy — denies both of those facts.

USB4 Version 2.0 Announced 

The USB Promoter Group:

The USB Promoter Group today announced the pending release of the USB4 Version 2.0 specification, a major update to enable up to 80 Gbps of data performance over the USB Type-C cable and connector. The USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery (USB PD) specifications will also be updated to enable this higher level of data performance. All of these specification updates are expected to be published in advance of this year’s series of USB DevDays developer events planned for November.

Putting two version numbers in one name is all you need to know about how much clarity this spec brings to the “looks like USB-C but what is it?” realm of cables and ports.

What Explains Android vs. iPhone Usage Share Discrepancies Between Countries? 

Today’s earlier item about iPhone usage share overtaking Android in the U.S. led to an interesting thread on Twitter regarding the seemingly curious large differences in iPhone/Android share between different countries. The iPhone is particularly popular in the U.S. and Japan, and in English-speaking countries (Canada, United Kingdom, Australia) in general. Android, for obvious reasons, is overwhelmingly popular in poorer countries. But there are wealthy countries like Germany and France where Android is more popular by roughly 3 to 1 margins. I suspect there is no simple answer to this, and that it comes down to nuanced but significant nation-by-nation cultural differences.

If any readers in Germany, France, or Japan (or from anywhere, for that matter) have ideas about this, I’m all ears.

Was iCloud the Final ‘iName’? 

Last week on Twitter, in a thread speculating on what Apple might name its widely-rumored upcoming VR headset, I mentioned that I don’t expect it to be named with an “i” prefix. I tweeted that iPad, introduced in 2010, was the last such name. A few followers chimed in that iCloud, introduced at WWDC 2011, came later.

iCloud was the last new Apple product or service introduced by Steve Jobs. To my knowledge, no one at, or formerly at, Apple has ever come out and said it, but it seems pretty clear that those iNames were a Steve Jobs thing. I would expect future Apple products and services to be named like Apple Watch — “Apple” followed by a simple descriptive word.

Update: iMessage was announced (by Scott Forstall, with a humorous assist from Joz) during the same WWDC 2011 keynote where Jobs announced iCloud. Let’s call it a tie then: iCloud and iMessage are the last new iNames.

Claris Is Renaming FileMaker 

Adam Engst, writing at TidBITS:

Claris will rename FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go (for deploying FileMaker apps on the iPhone and iPad), and FileMaker Server (for hosting multi-user FileMaker apps) to Claris Pro, Claris Go, and Claris Server. A new Web-based development environment called Claris Studio will join and integrate with the other products to provide a modern, cloud-based system. Claris Studio can — among much else — host public-facing forms that pipe data from anonymous Web users into Claris Pro and create tables, graphs, and dashboards using data from Claris Pro.

The more important change for longtime individual FileMaker users is that there will be a freemium version of Claris Pro with free access to Claris Studio (and presumably Claris Go). Its only restriction is that databases created with the freemium version are restricted to a single user — but there are no size or time constraints.

This is apparently months-old news, but I hadn’t seen it. I’d have thought they should keep the “FileMaker” name and get rid of “Claris”, but either way, this is clarifying. Perhaps today’s FileMaker is so different from days of yore that it deserves a new brand.

Jeff Bezos on Bet-the-Company Bets 

Jeff Bezos, back in 2014 in an interview with Henry Blodget:

What really matters is, companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence. Whereas companies that are making bets all along, even big bets, but not bet-the-company bets, prevail. I don’t believe in bet-the-company bets. That’s when you’re desperate. That’s the last thing you can do.

Is Facebook’s AR/VR play really a bet-the-company bet? To me it feels like it. They changed the name of the whole company and supposedly have over 10,000 employees working on it. What else are they betting on for the future, other than hamfistedly trying to turn Instagram into a Frankensteinian amalgam of TikTok and QVC.

WSJ: ‘Wait, When Did Everyone Start Using Apple Pay?’ 

Ben Cohen, writing last month for The Wall Street Journal:

The percentage of iPhones with Apple Pay activated was 10% in 2016 and 20% in 2017, according to research from Loup Ventures, as most people seemed perfectly happy with their plastic cards and leather wallets. Adoption nearly doubled again in 2018. It hit 50% by 2020. Now it’s around 75% and inching closer to ubiquity. Of course, not every account that gets activated remains in active use.

So what changed? We did. Apple’s executives remained confident about the future even when the present wasn’t so rosy because they could look at the rest of the world’s acceptance of contactless payments and see that the U.S. was lagging years behind.

Apple excels at playing long games. Apple Pay is one example that started well — even though that good start was dismissed by skeptics — and has grown steadily. Apple Maps is an even better example, because it started terribly, but now is quite competitive.

The Great Potato Capers 

I heard this story for the first time yesterday, on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, and it’s so damn funny I can’t believe I hadn’t heard it before.

Counterpoint Research: iPhone Overtakes Android in U.S. Usage Share 

Patrick McGee, reporting for The Financial Times:

The 50 per cent landmark — the iPhone’s highest share since it launched in 2007 — was first passed in the quarter ending in June, according to data from Counterpoint Research. Some 150 devices using Google’s Android operating system, led by Samsung and Lenovo, accounted for the rest.

I was not aware that Lenovo is second behind Samsung in Android phones. [Update: I had completely forgotten that Lenovo bought Motorola in 2014; now it makes perfect sense that they’re #2.]

The numbers are based on smartphones in use, known as the “active installed base”, what Apple finance chief Luca Maestri dubbed “the engine for our company” in a July earnings call. This is a wider and more meaningful category than new phone shipments, which fluctuate from quarter to quarter and have already demonstrated Apple’s newfound strength.

The active installed base takes into account the millions of people brought into Apple’s ecosystem through the used phone market, as well as those who use iPhones purchased years ago.

You don’t hear so much about “open beats closed” anymore.

I also continue to think Google is bored with Android. Two years ago I wrote:

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

Apple, institutionally, is as attentive to the iPhone and iOS as it has ever been. I think Google, institutionally, is bored with Android.

Nothing in the last two years has changed my mind on that. Android is certainly still a thing for Google. It’s a priority. But it’s nowhere near the top of Google’s priorities. Nothing ranks higher amongst Apple’s priorities than the iPhone and iOS. Year after year, that difference in prioritization adds up.

The other interesting takeaway here is that iPhone usage share outperforms iPhone sales share. iPhones are simply more durable and get meaningful software updates for longer. People use their iPhones longer, and they have far more resale value.