Linked List: January 2024

Two Additional Observations Regarding Apple’s Core Technology Fee 

From Apple’s support page for the new Core Technology Fee announced last week:

Nonprofit organizations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities who are approved for a fee waiver are exempt from the Core Technology Fee, subject to the Apple Developer Program’s existing rules. Developers of alternative app marketplaces will pay the Core Technology Fee for every first annual install of their app marketplace, including installs that occur before one million.

One problem I see with the Core Technology Fee is that it doesn’t seem compatible with the concept of completely free-of-charge apps from developers who aren’t registered non-profits, educational institutions, or governments. What we used to call freeware back in the day. Like what about NetNewsWire? That’s a totally free and open source app, but it’s not from a non-profit, school, or government. I feel like developers of freeware should be able to apply for an exemption. Perhaps even only for open source freeware?

The second sentence quoted above is something I didn’t notice until my friend Manton Reece pointed it out over the weekend. Marketplace store apps don’t get 1 million free installs — they start paying the CTF after the first download.

Day One 

My thanks to Day One for sponsoring last week at DF. Everyone knows Day One is the best journaling app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. A wonderful interface, and secure, private, trustworthy sync.

Last week Day One launched their new Shared Journals feature, providing a collaborative space for reflection and connection. Start today and enjoy a special offer exclusive to DF readers.

Netflix Games Continue to Gain Traction, Led in Part by ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Titles 

Sarah Perez, reporting a few weeks ago for TechCrunch:

Just over two years ago, Netflix announced it would enter a new business: gaming. Amid a mobile gaming market dominated by free-to-play and ad-supported business models, Netflix’s plan was to make its games free without ads or in-app purchases. The gambit may now be starting to pay off. In 2023, Netflix Games downloads increased by over 180% year-over-year, according to estimates from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. In total, the games have been downloaded 81.2 million times worldwide across the App Store and Google Play in 2023, with the fourth quarter accounting for around 53% of those downloads.

Apple’s updated new policies regarding game streaming (and “mini-games” — but GTA titles sure aren’t mini) might help Netflix in this regard.

Jury Orders Trump to Pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 Million for Years of Defamation 

The New York Times:

On Friday, Roberta A. Kaplan, a lawyer for Ms. Carroll, asked the jury in a crisp and methodical summation to award her client at least $24 million to help Ms. Carroll repair her reputation and to compensate her for the emotional harm Mr. Trump had inflicted with his attacks.

Ms. Kaplan also asked the jury to award substantial punitive damages to deter Mr. Trump from continuing to attack Ms. Carroll. Ms. Kaplan did not specify an amount, but she noted that Mr. Trump, in an excerpt from a video deposition played for the jury, estimated that his brand alone was worth “maybe $10 billion” and that he placed the value of various of his real estate properties at $14 billion.

“Donald Trump is worth billions of dollars,” Ms. Kaplan told the jury.

“The law says you can consider Donald Trump’s wealth as well as his malicious and spiteful continuing conduct in making that assessment,” Ms. Kaplan said, adding, “Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now is the time to make him pay dearly.”

It must have been delicious using Trump’s own absurd lies about his wealth against him.

The Talk Show: ‘An Asterisk on the Bento Box’ 

Marco Arment returns to the show. Topics include the Apple-Masimo patent dispute over Apple Watch blood oxygen sensors, the new External Payment Links entitlement for the App Store, and more.

Sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
  • Trade Coffee: Let’s Coffee Better. Get a free bag of fresh coffee with any Trade subscription.
‘Insanely Great: The Apple Mac at 40’ Panel Discussion 

The Computer History Museum:

On the 40th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh’s launch, CHM celebrates one of the most iconic and impactful products ever created. Members of the original hardware, software, design, and marketing/PR teams including Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Andy Cunningham, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Susan Kare, Dan’l Lewin, and Mike Murray, as well as insiders and experts Chris Espinosa, Guy Kawasaki, Steven Levy, and David Pogue, share stories and discuss the impact of the Mac.

Streaming live as I type this sentence, 7pm Pacific / 10pm Eastern.

Steven Levy: ‘Apple Shares the Secret of Why the 40-Year-Old Mac Still Rules’ 

Steven Levy has a great piece at Wired commemorating the Mac’s 40th anniversary, including interviews with a slew of Apple executives:

For the past few years, the form factors of Macintoshes have been fairly stable. Could a Mac in the future look totally different, as when the iMac morphed from a basketball to a lamp?

“There’s definitely the possibility for a revolution in the future,” says Molly Anderson, a leader in industrial design at Apple. “When we start a new project, we don’t start by thinking of the constraints of how popular our existing products are. We’re always focused on trying to design the best tool for the job.” Joswiak adds that it has taken courage to keep changing the Mac to keep it on the forefront — always, of course, in a deliberate fashion. “The road to tech hell is paved by people who do things because they can, not because they should,” he says.

Jony Ive told me once that one of Apple’s guiding principles was never to make changes for the sake of change alone. If an idea doesn’t make the product better, they don’t do it. If that means some products only change radically in form factor once or twice a decade, so be it. Good design should stand the test of time.

Levy also includes an excerpt from a piece he wrote for Rolling Stone on the original launch:

If you have had any prior experience with personal computers, what you might expect to see is some sort of opaque code, called a “prompt,” consisting of phosphorescent green or white letters on a murky background. What you see with Macintosh is the Finder. On a pleasant, light background, little pictures called “icons” appear, representing choices available to you. A word-processing program might be represented by a pen, while the program that lets you draw pictures might have a paintbrush icon. A file would represent stored documents — book reports, letters, legal briefs and so forth. To see a particular file, you’d move the mouse, which would, in turn, move the cursor to the file you wanted. You’d tap a button on the mouse twice, and the contents of the file would appear on the screen: dark on light, just like a piece of paper.

This seems simple, but most personal computers (including the IBM PC) can’t do this.

“When you show Mac to an absolute novice,” says Chris Espinosa, the twenty-two-year-old head of publications for the Mac team, “he assumes that’s the way all computers work. That’s our highest achievement. We’ve made almost every computer that’s ever been made look completely absurd.”

Espinosa might be the only person at Apple who can say “40th anniversary? That’s nothing.”

‘Show Me More Macs’: Every Macintosh Ever Made 

Jonathan Zufi:

To celebrate this milestone, showcases every Macintosh desktop and portable Apple has ever made with hundreds of the photos taken as part of the work creating the coffee table book ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation (3rd edition now available up to date as of the end of 2023). The site also includes photos taken by Kevin Taylor, Forest McMullin and others (including video) that I’ve collected over the past 14 years.

The site is easy to use: you’ll see a continuous stream of random Macs - just keep clicking ‘Show me more Macs’ and that’s what you’ll get. If you’re a hard core Mac fan, this site should keep you busy for a very long time.


Harry McCracken on the Original Macintosh 

Harry McCracken, writing at Fast Company:

The most celebrated part of that original Mac was its software interface, which brimmed with new ideas, despite the lazy conventional wisdom that it merely imitated work done at Xerox’s PARC lab. But at the moment, I’m most fascinated by its industrial design. That petite all-in-one beige case, created by Jerry Manock and Terry Oyama, was unlike anything anyone had seen until then — at least outside of a kitchen. [...]

But if all the first Mac inspires is nostalgia, we’ve lost sight of how daring it was. Unlike Apple’s first blockbuster PC, the Apple II, it had a built-in display but no integrated keyboard. It also sacrificed most of the Apple II’s defining features, such as its dazzling color graphics and expansion slots.

In retrospect, it’s among the gutsiest gambits Apple ever made. Imagine the company introducing a new smartphone that has virtually nothing in common with the iPhone. You can’t — or at least it strains my imagination.

That’s what kept me from getting the Mac until I owned one. The Apple II defined what I thought of as a computer, and because the Mac didn’t resemble the Apple II in any way — it didn’t even have a compatibility mode to run Apple II software — it seemed like something else to me. An appliance of some sort, not a computer.

Turns out it was the best concept for a computer anyone has ever devised.

Jason Snell: ‘The Mac Turns 40’ 

Jason Snell, writing for The Verge:

Twenty years ago, on the Mac’s 20th anniversary, I asked Steve Jobs if the Mac would still be relevant to Apple in the age of the iPod. He scoffed at the prospect of the Mac not being important: “of course” it would be.

Yet, 10 years later, Apple’s revenue was increasingly dominated by the iPhone, and the recent success of the new iPad had provided another banner product for the company. When I interviewed Apple exec Phil Schiller for the Mac’s 30th anniversary, I found myself asking him about the Mac’s relevance, too. He also scoffed: “Our view is, the Mac keeps going forever,” he said.

Today marks 40 years since Jobs unveiled the original Macintosh at an event in Cupertino, and it once again feels right to ask what’s next for the Mac.

The subhead on Snell’s piece at The Verge nails it:

Apple’s longest-running product is an increasingly small part of the company’s business. And yet, it’s never been more successful.

Over at Six Colors, Snell has more from an interview with Greg Joswiak, and, separately, a deep dive looking back at the major eras of the Mac’s history, dividing them by processor architecture. From that piece:

The IBM PC and the emerging DOS PC clone standard weren’t the only enemies here. Plenty of other platforms existed in the early days, including the one that generated most of Apple’s revenue, the Apple II.

History tends to flatten everything into simple narratives, so you might expect that the moment the Mac was introduced, Apple began pivoting away from the Apple II. That did not happen. Apple didn’t discontinue the last Apple II model until nearly a decade into the Mac’s existence. After the Mac was introduced, Apple kept introducing new Apple II models: The compact IIc three months later and the 16-bit IIGS more than two years later.

The Mac was a curiosity for me, growing up in the 1980s — intriguing, but it was the Apple II platform that had my attention (and heart) at the time. Then, when I finally got my first Mac in 1991 (a Macintosh LC with 4 MB of RAM and a 40 MB hard disk), I got it. It was like turning on a light in a dark room. I finally understood.

Jon Stewart Is Returning to ‘The Daily Show’ 

Angela Yang and Diana Dasrath, reporting for NBC News:

Longtime viewers of “The Daily Show” will soon see a familiar face back in the hosting chair. Jon Stewart, who hosted the show from 1996 to 2015, will return to the program, NBC News has confirmed. [...]

Stewart will host Monday nights through the 2024 election, and then will continue on as executive producer for every episode until the end of this year and the next, according to a news release from Comedy Central. On days Stewart is not hosting, “The Daily Show” will continue to rely on a team of rotating correspondents.

The best TV news I’ve heard in a long while. The problem with The Problem With Jon Stewart on Apple TV+ was that the show was boring. The Daily Show with Stewart hosting was never boring.

Spotify Reveals Its Plans for the Post-DMA Era of Sideloading in the E.U. 


For years, even in our own app, Apple had these rules where we couldn’t tell you about offers, how much something costs, or even where or how to buy it. We know, pretty nuts. The DMA means that we’ll finally be able to share details about deals, promotions, and better-value payment options in the EU. And an easier experience for you means good things for artists, authors, and creators looking to build their audiences of listeners, concert-goers, and audiobook-loving fans. What’s more? All of this can now come without the burden of a mandatory ~30% tax imposed by Apple, which is prohibited under the DMA.

Spotify’s assumptions about how sideloading is going to work on iOS are clearly at odds with the description of Apple’s plans from The Wall Street Journal today. The Journal did not state what percentage commission or fees Apple plans to collect, but it sounds like Spotify thinks they’re going to offer an iOS app through which they won’t pay Apple anything at all for in-app transactions. Their blog post has a series of before-and-after screenshots, and the “after” screenshots show a purchasing flow that doesn’t involve any of the warnings or scaresheets Apple has required for the “reader” app entitlement, Dutch dating apps, or the new External Purchase Links entitlement.

Spotify even plans to run their own app store, with multiple apps. (It seems unclear if the Spotify app store for iOS would host games and apps from other developers, or only a suite of apps from Spotify itself.)

Spotify more or less assumes they’ll be free from all Apple restrictions and commissions, and feels free to lambast Apple’s policies as “pretty nuts” and “ridiculous”:

It should be this easy for every single Spotify customer everywhere. But if you live outside certain markets, you will continue to encounter frustrating roadblocks because of Apple’s ridiculous rules.

We don’t know Apple’s plans yet, but will soon. But it sure sounds like Apple and Spotify have completely different and utterly incompatible interpretations of what the DMA requires. Seems like one side or the other is in for a big surprise.

The Wall Street Journal on Apple’s Plans for iOS Sideloading in the E.U. 

Aaron Tilley, Salvador Rodriguez, Sam Schechner, and Kim Mackrael, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

Meta Platforms, Spotify and other companies are preparing new download options for customers in anticipation of the new rules. Meta is considering a system that would allow people to download apps directly from Facebook ads. Spotify plans to offer users the ability to download some of its iPhone apps directly from its website, according to the company. Microsoft has weighed a launch of its own third-party app store for games in the past. [...]

Apple’s approach to the EU law will help ensure the company maintains close oversight of apps downloaded outside the App Store, a process known as sideloading. The company will give itself the ability to review each app downloaded outside of its App Store. Apple also plans to collect fees from developers that offer downloads outside of the App Store, said people familiar with the company’s plans. The company hasn’t yet announced its plans and they could change.

The restrictions and fees could renew tensions with app developers, some of whom had expected the new law to allow them to deliver their apps to users free of Apple’s restrictions or what they see as a high commission. The new European law “is a regulation with teeth, with the possibility to apply fines and with a possibility for the commission to have powers of investigation,” said Olivia Regnier, a senior director of European policy at Spotify.

The Journal story is light on details, but it sounds like Apple is planning for a system largely like last week’s External Purchase Link entitlement, where developers will still be on the hook to pay Apple 27/12 percent commissions. How will this review process work for apps that aren’t distributed through the App Store?

I’ve considered it very odd from the start that the DMA is not clear at all about this. And here we are on the cusp of it going into effect, and we still seemingly have no idea whether the European Commission and Apple see eye to eye on what the DMA demands for compliance.

Clearly, the most strident critics of Apple’s App Store policies believe that the DMA requires opening iOS to something akin to how the Mac works: where the App Store is one method of software distribution, but users are free to simply download apps directly from developers’ websites, so long as those apps are signed. According to the Journal, Apple is planning to announce something not like that at all.

I have a feeling that fireworks are going to fly when Apple announces their compliance plans, but I don’t know. Maybe Apple has shared their plans in detail with the EC and the EC is fine with it. But if that’s the case, I don’t see how the DMA “has teeth” when it comes to sideloading.

Signal Will Cost $50 Million Per Year to Run 

Meredith Whittaker and Joshua Lund, writing for the Signal blog back in November:

Instead of monetizing surveillance, we’re supported by donations, including a generous initial loan from Brian Acton. Our goal is to move as close as possible to becoming fully supported by small donors, relying on a large number of modest contributions from people who care about Signal. We believe this is the safest form of funding in terms of sustainability: ensuring that we remain accountable to the people who use Signal, avoiding any single point of funding failure, and rejecting the widespread practice of monetizing surveillance.

But our nonprofit structure doesn’t mean it costs less for Signal to produce a globally distributed communications app. Signal is a nonprofit, but we’re playing in a lane dominated by multi-billion-dollar corporations that have defined the norms and established the tech ecosystem, and whose business models directly contravene our privacy mission. So in order to provide a genuinely useful alternative, Signal spends tens of millions of dollars every year. We estimate that by 2025, Signal will require approximately $50 million dollars a year to operate — and this is very lean compared to other popular messaging apps that don’t respect your privacy.

Signal funds itself through voluntary donations. Most of its competitors are funded through advertising. But iMessage is funded through device sales. If it costs $50 million per year to operate Signal, I’d guess it costs Apple more than that to run iMessage.

I know the Beeper thing is last month’s news, but the fact that iMessage costs a lot of money to operate is generally overlooked by those who think Apple should be forced to “open it up”, whatever that might mean.

Upgrade: 40th Anniversary of the Macintosh 

Myke Hurley hosting, with panelists Jason Snell, John Siracusa, Shelly Brisbin, Stephen Hackett, Dan Moren, and yours truly. Great topic list:

  • First Mac owned
  • Favorite/best Mac
  • Favorite/best Mac software ever
  • Favorite/best Mac accessory or hardware
  • Hall of Shame: worst accessory, Mac, or moment

There’s even a video version.

Hey Calendar 

My thanks to Hey for sponsoring this week at DF to promote their new Hey Calendar.

Back in 2020 Hey launched their email service with a completely fresh take on a category that hadn’t seen anything new in forever. I’ve been subscribed since it launched, and still find it like nothing else. Their “screener” feature alone is worth it: get an email from someone you never want to see email from again? Just screen them out with a single thumbs-down button click. Those emails aren’t trashed, and they aren’t flagged as spam — they’re screened out of your inbox (or in Hey’s terms, imbox), but they remain in a “Screened Out” mailbox just in case. Every email app should have something like this.

Now they’ve done the same with calendaring. The all-new Hey Calendar brings flexibility, personality, and a radical new point of view to the boring old grid of dates.

So Hey is now both email and a calendar, all-in-one. As you may have heard, they’ve got an all-new mobile app for Hey Calendar. too. Check out how much better things can be at

Spotify Attacks Apple’s ‘Outrageous’ 27 Percent Commission From External Links 

Tom Gerken, writing for BBC News:

On Wednesday, Apple announced it would permit app developers to sell products in places other than its own store — but only if they still paid commission. Spotify said that was “outrageous” and accused Apple of “stopping at nothing” to protect its profits. It is urging the British government to prevent similar fees being levied in the UK. [...]

Spotify has reacted with fury, saying the policy “flies in the face” of the US court’s attempt to enable greater competition. “Once again, Apple has demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to protect the profits they exact on the backs of developers and consumers under their app store monopoly,” it said in a statement.

I can see why Spotify doesn’t like this, but I’m not sure why Spotify doesn’t qualify under the “reader” app category that can link to external web pages without paying Apple any commission at all. Also, I think Spotify is barking up the wrong tree while complaining about Apple’s compliance with this U.S. court order under the guise of Apple abusing a monopoly — Judge Gonzales specifically ruled that the App Store does not constitute a monopoly.

Here’s a simple thought I had today regarding whether Apple’s new External Purchase Links entitlement policy is a good faith effort to comply with Judge Gonzales’ order: Will any developers actually choose to use it? Remember, to use this entitlement, developers must:

  • Still offer in-app purchases through Apple’s system, alongside external payment links.
  • Pay Apple a 27/12 percent commission on sales through external links.
  • Report monthly sales to Apple and submit to audits on demand.
  • Track users who follow those links so they can determine which sign-ups they owe Apple commission payments for.
  • Follow Apple’s strict design guidelines for presenting those links.

Or, they could just stick to using IAP exclusively. I’m curious whether any developers at all will consider the new External Payment Links worth implementing. If not, how could it be a reasonable policy? It may well be legal, but bad faith and spite aren’t illegal.

Apple Finally Reveals Vision Pro’s Weight 

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

As you can see, the Vision Pro is certainly heavier than other headsets on the market, with the exception of the Meta Quest Pro. But it’s also important to remember that, other than the Valve Index, these other headsets have their batteries built-in, while Vision Pro relies on an external battery pack.

With that in mind, Vision Pro is actually lighter than the other major headset without an integrated battery.

  • Vision Pro: 600–650 grams (depending on light seal and headband)
  • Meta Quest Pro: 722 grams
  • Meta Quest 3: 515 grams
  • PlayStation VR2: 560 grams

Also on the tech specs page is the RAM: 16 GB for all models. As I predicted, there are multiple storage tiers: 512 GB for +$200, 1 TB for +$400.

‘Making Apple Vision Pro’ 

Behind-the-scenes teaser video from Apple showing bits of how Vision Pro is manufactured and assembled. I could watch an hour of this.

Also of note: the YouTube version is presented in widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, but Tim Cook posted a version of the same video to Twitter/X in the tall 9:16 ratio. Works perfectly both ways. (Via Stu Maschwitz.)

‘Nothing. There Ain’t Nothing in Room 237.’ 

File this away for the next time you remodel a bathroom. Gorgeous.

I’m Imagining Bill Hader as Stefan: ‘Ikea’s Latest Vision Pro Accessory Has It All…’ 

Daniel Raffel on Threads:

This IKEA table lamp in the shape of a mannequin head is probably going to be the hottest Vision Pro accessory.

Vision Pro really does raise a “Where do you keep it?” question, and the $40 Iskärna might be a fun answer.

Tim Bray: ‘Mourning Google’ 

Tim Bray:

But those Ten Blue Links surfaced by the PageRank-that-was had a special magic. I found them intensely human, a reflection of the voices populating what remains of the Web, the only platform without a vendor. This was true when I was there and I said so, but was laughed at.

And now, in Anno Domini 2024, Google has lost its edge in search. There are plenty of things it can’t find. There are compelling alternatives. To me this feels like a big inflection point, because around the stumbling feet of the Big Tech dinosaurs, the Web’s mammals, agile and flexible, still scurry. They exhibit creative energy and strongly-flavored voices, and those voices still sometimes find and reinforce each other without being sock puppets of shareholder-value-focused private empires.

That line: the Web’s mammals, agile and flexible, still scurry.

That resonates. I’d expand that to indie mammals, whether writing web or native apps — or often now, both. One of the indie mammals today, one that fits the bill for a “compelling alternative” to Google Search, is Kagi. I’d been using DuckDuckGo for many years as my primary search engine, but I switched to Kagi in the summer of 2022 and haven’t looked back. I’ve been paying $10/month for a Professional plan (unlimited searches per month, unlimited access to Kagi’s FastGPT and Universal Summarizer) and I’m this close to upgrading to the $25/month Ultimate plan just to support this crazy company.

Kagi search isn’t just good for a Google alternative, I flat out prefer its results to Google’s. Better results in a far better presentation. The only thing I find myself resorting to Google Search for are old links — when searching for news or specific articles that are, I don’t know, maybe more than 10 years old, no search engine seems able to compete with Google. But for everything else, I prefer Kagi. I go weeks at a time not using Google Search.

Kagi has no ads — it’s entirely supported by users paying for their excellent service. It’s never going to topple Google, but the man behind Kagi, Vladimir Prelovac, isn’t trying to. He’s just trying to make the best search engine — and web browser! — possible. Just trying to make something great for users.

I know: of all the things you thought you’d never pay for, a search engine is probably near the top of the list. But try Kagi out for yourself.

YouTube and Spotify Are Not Launching Vision Pro Apps Either 

Mark Gurman and Ashley Carman, reporting for Bloomberg (Gurman has been killing it this week on the Vision Pro apps beat — he’s breaking all of these stories):

Google’s YouTube and Spotify Technology SA, the world’s most popular video and music services, are joining Netflix Inc. in steering clear of Apple Inc.’s upcoming mixed-reality headset.

YouTube said in a statement Thursday that it isn’t planning to launch a new app for the Apple Vision Pro, nor will it allow its longstanding iPad application to work on the device — at least, for now. YouTube, like Netflix, is recommending that customers use a web browser if they want to see its content: “YouTube users will be able to use YouTube in Safari on the Vision Pro at launch.”

Spotify also isn’t currently planning a new app for visionOS — the Vision Pro’s operating system — and doesn’t expect to enable its iPad app to run on the device when it launches, according to a person familiar with matter. But the music service will still likely work from a web browser.

Spotify’s fuck-you to Apple I don’t find surprising, given the longstanding animosity between them. But YouTube is a surprise to me, and it’s a sign of how profoundly different the relationship is between Google and Apple today from the pre-Android era. In 2007, before third-party apps were even supported on iOS, YouTube was a built-in app on the original iPhone. (Apple designed and made the app; Google provided the back-end APIs and, obviously, the content.) Then-Google-CEO (and then-Apple-board-member!) Eric Schmidt was invited on stage by Steve Jobs to demo the YouTube app and sing the praises of both the iPhone and the Apple-Google partnership. That Apple-made Google-supported YouTube app was still a built-in default app on iOS when the iPad launched in 2010.

So for both the original iPhone and iPad, YouTube was part of the system software. For Vision Pro, there’s no app at all, not even the iPad app.

Regarding Netflix’s pass on Vision Pro, a little birdie informed me that until this week, the Netflix iPad app was available for those with access to Vision Pro hardware, and it worked just fine. This birdie still has the Netflix iPad app installed on their Vision Pro. Perhaps people at Netflix would disagree with just how well it worked — I don’t know — but I get the strong impression that the decision was political/strategic/spiteful, not technical. Entertainment is not the sole purpose of Vision Pro, but it’s a major one — and surely the primary one for many buyers — and it’s launching without the two biggest video entertainment apps in the world. Apple expected Netflix’s iPad app to be there on launch day.

This isn’t a dealbreaker — watching Netflix through Safari should be OK (albeit without offline downloads, a huge factor for using Vision Pro on airplanes), and many people think of YouTube as a website, not an app. But there’s no way around it: this is a bad look for Apple, not for Netflix or Google. The buck stops with Tim Cook on this. He should have been on the horn with Ted Sarandos and Sundar Pichai and worked this out. It’s his company that’s launching a $3,500 headset.

It’s also worth pointing out that these corporate pissing matches are reciprocal. They work in both directions. I doubt we’ll see any calls for Netflix, YouTube, or Spotify to be investigated by antitrust regulators over their refusal to allow their iPad apps to run on Vision Pro. But imagine if Netflix and Spotify wanted to be on Vision Pro on launch day and Apple refused, to leave more room in the spotlight for Apple TV+ and Apple Music. Or what happens if the Vision platform becomes a huge hit, and only then do Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify submit native apps — and Apple turns them down, on the grounds of “Where were you when we needed you?” People would lose their shit. We might even get a testy tweet from Elizabeth Warren.

Battery? What Battery? Oh, That Battery. 

Lauren Goode, writing at Wired:

Apple seems to not want you to notice the battery. The external battery pack barely appears on the product page on Apple’s website, showing up only at the end of a photo gallery at the bottom of the page. And in demo sessions this week, Apple told journalists they were not allowed to snap photos or capture any video of the hardware, an unusual rule for a press briefing. Instead, the company had its own photographer take photos during the Vision Pro demos. Every photo you’ve seen this week of reporters sitting on a couch while wearing the headset were shot by Apple.

Notably, the battery pack doesn’t appear in any of them. One attendee chose to run the attached cable down the back of his sweatshirt. In another shared image, of The Verge’s Nilay Patel, the cable is clearly visible, but the photo is cropped to avoid showing the battery pack. Chokkattu experienced this too; he set the Vision Pro’s battery pack on the couch cushion next to him during his demo, but in the photo Apple shared with us, the offending pack is cropped out of the frame.

To Apple’s credit, they weren’t at all cagey about this when they took my picture using Vision Pro Tuesday. They asked if I’d like photos taken by their photographer (who used an iPhone 15 Pro), I said sure, and they suggested draping the battery cable behind my back. It’s not just Apple being weird about the external battery; it’s that the external battery is weird. So of course their photography is going to de-emphasize it.

Almost every first-generation product has things like this* — glaring deficiencies dictated by the limits of technology. The original Mac had far too little RAM (128 KB) and far too little storage (a single 400 KB single-sided floppy disk drive). The original iPhone only supported 2G EDGE cellular networking, which was unfathomably slow and didn’t work at all while you were on a voice call. The original Apple Watch was very slow and struggled to last a full day on a single charge. The external battery pack — which only supplies 2 to 2.5 hours of battery life — is that for this first-gen Vision Pro. Also, the Vision Pro headset itself — without any built-in battery — is still too big and too heavy.

Paul Graham has a wonderful adage:

Don’t worry what people will say. If your first version is so impressive that trolls don’t make fun of it, you waited too long to launch.

* The original iPod is the exception that proves the rule. That little thing was, as Steven Levy’s excellent book aptly declared, perfect.

More on Apple’s Software Workaround for the Apple Watch Import Ban 

From an updated footnote in Apple’s “How to Use the Blood Oxygen App on Apple Watch” support page:

The ability to measure Blood Oxygen is no longer available on Apple Watch units sold by Apple in the United States on or after January 18, 2024. These are indicated with part numbers ending in LW/A.

Apple refuses to say so, but it seems clear that this is a software change. These new watch units still have the blood-oxygen sensor, but the sensor is disabled by software. This workaround definitely does not apply to already-sold watches, even after those watches upgrade to future versions of WatchOS. The reason why is that the ITC injunction is an import ban. Apple is banned from importing watches that violate Masimo’s patents. Units that have already been sold aren’t affected by an import ban.

The software workaround is clearly distinguishing which watches can continue to use the blood-oxygen sensor and which can’t by checking the device identifiers or serial numbers or something. This is why it took Apple a few weeks to come up with this solution: they needed to retool production to produce units with distinguishable part numbers. It would have been trivial to just disable the sensor on all watches, old and new alike, with a WatchOS update. (Although existing owners would likely refuse to update.)

Apple also refuses to say so, but it seems clear that these new units will have the blood-oxygen sensors enabled in a future software update if and when they win on appeal or otherwise settle with Masimo. I’m pretty sure that’s just a question of when, but maybe it’s an if.

(Because the ban was instituted by the International Trade Commission, I believe Apple could tell Masimo to go fuck themselves if Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 were manufactured in America, because an import ban wouldn’t matter.)

Masimo CEO on Apple Watch Blood-Oxygen Sensor: ‘I Really Feel Wholeheartedly That Consumers Are Better Off Without It’ 

Mark Gurman and Edward Ludlow, reporting for Bloomberg:

Customers should buy pulse oximeters from Masimo or others instead, [Masimo CEO Joe] Kiani said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg TV. “Apple is masquerading what they are offering to consumers as a reliable, medical pulse oximeter, even though it is not,” he said. “I really feel wholeheartedly that consumers are better off without it.”

Apple said that Kiani’s claims are false and that its watch’s blood oxygen feature is accurate, works very well for customers and in some cases can save lives.

Tell us what you really think, Joe.

Masimo’s CEO said he hasn’t spoken to Apple personally about a settlement, and that nobody from Apple has reached out about coming to an agreement.

“There are court-ordered mediations that I cannot get into that have been held before,” he said. “And there will be additional meetings probably in the future.”

Kiani added that he doesn’t consider those meetings to be steps toward settling litigation. Apple disputed Kiani’s characterization that nobody from Apple has reached out, saying that the company has held a mediation and that a future meeting has been set.

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been getting from readers this week is basically, “Why the hell hasn’t Apple paid to settle this, or just bought the entire company?” I have no idea, but the above sounds like neither side is close to settling.

Netflix Has No App for VisionOS 

Mark Gurman:

Netflix Inc. isn’t planning to launch an app for Apple Inc.’s upcoming Vision Pro headset, marking a high-profile snub of the new technology by the world’s biggest video subscription service.

Rather than designing a Vision Pro app — or even just supporting its existing iPad app on the platform — Netflix is essentially taking a pass. The company, which competes with Apple in streaming, said in a statement that users interested in watching its content on the device can do so from the web. [...]

The fact that Netflix isn’t even willing to support the iPad approach suggests that it’s taking a wait-and-see stance with the headset. It’s also a bit of a reversal for the company, which said in July that it would support its iPad app on the Vision Pro. Even then, though, Netflix didn’t plan to release software specifically for the headset’s operating system, visionOS.

“Said in July” links to a report from Gurman himself, which states:

But the biggest streamer of all, Netflix Inc., will take a pass. I’m told that the company has no current plans to develop a native app for the Vision Pro. Of course, Netflix will still let its iPad app run on the headset unmodified.

“Of course”!

Here’s the statement from Netflix:

“Our members will be able to enjoy Netflix on the web browser on the Vision Pro, similar to how our members can enjoy Netflix on Macs,” Los Gatos, California-based Netflix said in the statement.

Mac users sure do enjoy not being able to download Netflix movies or shows for offline viewing — you know, like in an airplane, one of the most obvious and common places where Vision Pro will be used.

Not having a native VisionOS app is one thing. Apparently having no current plans to make one is another. But it really feels like pure corporate spite — a pissing match — that Netflix is refusing to allow their iPad app to run on VisionOS. The iPad-app-on-Vision experience is actually pretty good, and for streaming apps in particular, ought to be fine. Not impressive, like the native VisionOS Disney+ app, but just fine. I’ll bet that Netflix is the only major streaming service without an app on VisionOS — iPad or native — on day one. Perhaps Netflix is using this as a negotiating tactic for something in return from Apple?

In addition to the fact that only being available through the web means no offline viewing, it might also mean that VisionOS users will not be able to launch Netflix from their home screens. I’m not sure if VisionOS Safari has an “Add to Home Screen” feature, but if it doesn’t, that’s going to be an annoyance for Vision Pro users who want to watch Netflix. Telling Siri to open “netflix dot com” might be the only way to get there from your home screen.

Apple Will Begin Selling Series 9 and Ultra Watches With Blood Oxygen Sensors Disabled Tomorrow 

Apple, in a statement to Chance Miller at 9to5Mac:

Apple’s appeal is ongoing, and we believe the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should reverse the USITC’s decision. We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting orders.

Pending the appeal, Apple is taking steps to comply with the ruling while ensuring customers have access to Apple Watch with limited disruption. These steps include introducing a version of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States without the Blood Oxygen feature. There is no impact to Apple Watch units previously purchased that include the Blood Oxygen feature.

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 without the Blood Oxygen feature will become available from starting 6am PT on January 18, and from Apple Stores starting January 18.

Without the feature — not without the sensor, as Aaron Tilley of The Wall Street Journal reported in a story that still has not been corrected.’s product pages for Series 9 and Ultra 2 now have a prominent banner at the top that reads “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the blood oxygen feature.”

Apple, a court filing spotted by Florian Mueller at Games Fray:

Please take notice that on March 5, 2024 at 10:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard by the Court, at the courtroom of the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, [...] Apple Inc. (“Apple”) will and hereby does move that this Court, pursuant to the mandate of the Ninth Circuit, enter judgment ordering Epic Games, Inc. (“Epic”) to pay Apple $73,404,326, plus additional amounts Apple is incurring during this ongoing litigation, under the indemnification provision of the Developer Program License Agreement.

This is not simply about Epic having sued Apple and lost; it’s about the fact that this whole saga started with Epic’s Fortnite in-app payment processing stunt, blatantly violating the Developer Program License Agreement. This wasn’t like an edge case or technicality; Epic deliberately violated the clear rules of the DPLA as a publicity stunt to launch their antitrust lawsuit. File under “Fucking Around and Finding Out”.

Mueller writes:

Early into the litigation, Epic accepted that if it loses on its antitrust claims (as it did), it owes damages. If Epic had prevailed on antitrust, the contract clause wouldn’t have been enforceable. [...]

Apple does this as a matter of principle. They won’t leave an amount in the tens of millions on the table. And their overall treatment of Epic, such as not putting Fortnite back, is meant to discourage other app makers from challenging Apple and from breaching the DPLA.

It’s unsurprising but worth noting that Fortnite is seemingly never coming back to iOS, unless Epic sells the franchise to another company. iOS Fortnite players are like the children in an ugly divorce.

Apple’s Workaround for the ITC’s Import Ban on Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2: Disabling the Blood-Oxygen Sensor in Software 

Scharon Harding, reporting for Ars Technica:

Apple has developed a backup plan for if the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are import banned again. As it currently appeals the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC’s) ruling that its watches violate a patent owned by Masimo, Apple has come up with a software workaround that strips its current smartwatches of their controversial blood oxygen monitoring capabilities.

That’s a good summary of Apple’s workaround from a writer who understands what she’s talking about. Apple will disable blood-oxygen monitoring via software.

Compare and contrast with Aaron Tilley’s report for The Wall Street Journal, under the jacktastically-wrong headline “Apple to Remove Blood-Oxygen Sensor From Watch to Avoid U.S. Ban” (News+ link):

Apple is removing a blood-oxygen sensor from some of its smartwatches to get around a patent dispute related to the technology, a step likely to avoid further sales disruptions but one that may raise questions about the company’s push into health. [...]

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which is responsible for enforcing import bans, on Friday approved technical changes to the watches, including the removal of the blood-oxygen sensor, according to a Masimo filing on Monday. A decision on Apple’s request for a permanent stay on the U.S. ban during its appeal is expected in the coming days.

Ars includes a link to Masimo’s filing; the WSJ does not. Needless to say, Masimo’s filing does not say that Apple is removing the blood-oxygen sensor from these watches, because they’re not. They’re just disabling the sensors via software for watches sold in the U.S. — the only country where the import ban applies.

This is no little mistake on Tilley’s and the Journal’s part. Disabling a feature via software is one thing, and not that big a deal. Designing, engineering, and manufacturing entirely different hardware models without the physical sensors would be extraordinary. That’s just not how Apple works — they’re not set up to change manufacturing like that. Plus, if Apple merely disables the sensor via software, they can re-enable it via a software update in the future, once the dispute is settled. If they were to start selling Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches that didn’t have the sensor, those watches would never gain the functionality, even after the dispute is settled.

Aaron Tilley isn’t just a tech reporter for the Journal: his entire beat is covering Apple. And he seemingly has no idea how the company functions, because if he did, he’d have quadruple checked this “they’re removing the sensors” take before publishing it. But here it is a day after publication and his report has yet to be corrected. Pure jackassery.

Apple Developer News:

In addition to using Apple’s convenient, safe, and secure in-app purchase system, apps on the App Store in the United States that offer in-app purchases can also use the StoreKit External Purchase Link Entitlement (US) to include a link to the developer’s website that informs users of other ways to purchase digital goods or services. To use the entitlement, you’ll need to submit a request, enable the entitlement in Xcode, and use required StoreKit APIs. Apple will review your app to ensure it complies with the terms and conditions of the entitlement, as well as the App Store Review Guidelines and the Apple Developer Program License Agreement. [...]

Your app must offer in-app purchases in accordance with the Developer Program License Agreement and App Store Review Guidelines, and may not discourage end-users from making in-app purchases.

Apple clearly had these updated guidelines ready to go, pending this week’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting the remaining petitions from Apple and Epic.

Scroll down the page, then scroll some more, and you’ll get to the section on “Commission, transaction reports, and payments”:

Apple is charging a commission on digital purchases initiated within seven days from link out, as described below. This will not capture all transactions that Apple has facilitated through the App Store, but is a reasonable means to account for the substantial value Apple provides developers, including in facilitating linked transactions.

Apple’s commission will be 27% on proceeds you earn from sales (“transactions“) to the user for digital goods or services on your website after a link out (i.e., they tap “Continue” on the system disclosure sheet), provided that the sale was initiated within seven days and the digital goods or services can be used in an app. This includes (a) any applicable taxes and (b) any adjustments for refunds, reversals and chargebacks. For auto-renewing subscriptions, (i) a sale initiated, including with a free trial or offer, within seven days after a link out is a transaction; and (ii) each subsequent auto-renewal after the subscription is initiated is also a transaction.]

If you’re a participant in the Small Business Program, or if the transaction is an auto-renewal in the second year or later of an auto-renewing subscription, the commission will be 12%.

These commission rates apply to all amounts paid by each user net of transaction taxes charged by you. You will be responsible for the collection and remittance of any applicable taxes for sales processed by a third-party payment provider.

If you adopt this entitlement, you will be required to provide transaction reports within 15 calendar days following the end of each calendar month. Even if there were no transactions, you’re required to provide a report stating that is the case.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again now, and I’m sure I’ll have to say it again in the future: Apple’s 30/15 percent commissions from App Store purchases and subscriptions are not payment processing fees. They include payment processing fees, but most of those commissions are, in Apple’s view, their way of monetizing their intellectual property. And they see the entire iOS platform as their IP.

So developers who want to process payments on their own websites are still on the hook to pay Apple the same effective commissions, minus only 3 percent for the actual payment processing. And the truth is most of the time credit card processing costs more than 3 percent overall, after chargebacks and fraud are taken into consideration. Do more work and save no money — sounds appealing, no?

See also: MacRumors has PDF copies of Apple’s “notice of compliance” filing, and App Store VP Matthew Fischer’s declaration of compliance, both submitted to Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Disney Has a Good Disney+ App for VisionOS (and, by the Way, I Got Another 30-Minute Hands-On Experience With Vision Pro) 


At launch, viewers can transform their space into one of four Disney+ environments, bringing them even closer to the story. Each environment includes animations and sounds that make the space feel alive, and Easter eggs from films and franchises that will surprise and delight fans.

Available only on Apple Vision Pro, Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream the entire catalog — including thousands of TV shows and films, plus access to Hulu content for eligible Disney Bundle subscribers — from iconic environments with vivid details, including: the Disney+ Theater, inspired by the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood; the Scare Floor from Pixar’s Monsters Inc.; Marvel’s Avengers Tower overlooking downtown Manhattan; and the cockpit of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder facing a binary sunset on the planet Tatooine from the Star Wars galaxy.

I got to try this during another hands-on Vision Pro demo in New York today. (Follow those links to Mastodon and Threads, where I’ve tried to answer every question asked by my followers.)

It’s 100 percent a gimmick, but it’s a really good fun whimsical gimmick, and the detail is extraordinary. It looks like you are there on Tony Stark’s helipad penthouse deck, with a towering view of Manhattan in front of you, and Stark’s apartment behind you. These are 360° environments. The Tatooine view in the landspeeder is right outside Mos Eisley, at dusk.

Does it make the movie you’re watching any better to see it while sitting in an immersive fantasy environment? No, of course not. But it’s a lot of fun, because it’s so intricately detailed and well-done. Did the Mac OS X Aqua user interface make Mac users more productive? Did the original iPhone work better because its interface looked so damn cool? No. But those UIs sure did make Mac OS X and the original iPhone more fun.

I don’t know why people lose sight of the fact that having fun is one of the very best parts of being a human. The Disney+ app for VisionOS is fun.

Tim Sweeney on the SCOTUS Ruling 

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney:

The Supreme Court denied both sides’ appeals of the Epic v. Apple antitrust case. The court battle to open iOS to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States. A sad outcome for all developers.

Now the District Court’s injunction against Apple’s anti-steering rule is in effect, and developers can include in their apps “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to IAP”.

As of today, developers can begin exercising their court-established right to tell US customers about better prices on the web.

It’s sad for Epic, perhaps, and game developers in general, but I think overall this is a good day for developers, and a great day for users. In-app game purchases are already too predatory, as things stand — they’d get far worse if games on iOS were free to circumvent Apple’s system. If a developer wants users to sign up and pay on their website, they can now tell them so, in plain language, in the app.

The truth should never be against the rules. If you need to pay/subscribe on the app’s website, the app should be able to tell you that you need to pay/subscribe on their website.

Supreme Court Rejects Petitions in Epic v. Apple Antitrust Case, Largely a Win for Apple 

Adi Robertson, reporting for The Verge:

The Supreme Court has denied a request to hear an antitrust dispute between Apple and Fortnite publisher Epic Games. It rejected two petitions, one from each company, this morning — leaving the case largely, but not entirely, a win for Apple. [...]

Even so, both rulings found that Apple had acted anticompetitively by barring developers from telling users about other payment methods. Apple was ordered to let them allow links and other “calls to action” that would bypass Apple’s payment system, discontinuing what are known as anti-steering policies. But the company spent years delaying parts of the change with legal appeals, winning a reprieve while the Supreme Court considered the case. Today’s denial seemingly runs out that clock, requiring Apple to reconsider the future of its anti-steering rules.

Apple’s intransigence on these anti-steering provisions has long baffled me. I’ve consistently argued that the rules should be simple: apps that want to accept in-app payments must use Apple’s IAP system, but apps should be free to inform users that they can sign up and pay on the web, outside the app. In-app: Apple’s platform, Apple’s payments system. Out-app: the open web, and apps should be able to steer customers there. If Apple’s in-app purchasing system is so easy to use, so reasonably priced for its benefits, and so trusted by users, it should be able to compete openly with the web. And I think Apple’s in-app payments do compare favorably to leaving an app to pay on the web, especially for games. But with true competition from web purchases that apps can steer users to, Apple’s commission rates, for apps other than games at least, would probably be lower. I’d argue that it’s unhealthy for a company to grow dependent on unnaturally high commissions protected by fiat policies, rather than set through open competition.

Perhaps Apple’s thinking was that they might as well try to hold the line on these anti-steering provisions for as long as they could, thinking that today’s outcome was the worst case scenario. But I think it’s been a bad look for the company for years, and invited additional regulatory scrutiny. Regardless of whether these anti-steering provisions are legally anticompetitive, they’re undeniably anticompetitive in the plain sense of the word. I genuinely believe the Supreme Court has done Apple a favor letting this ruling stand.

Apple Teases New Entertainment Experiences Launching With Vision Pro 

Apple Newsroom, with some new content information for Vision Pro (finally):

With Apple Vision Pro, users can experience Apple Immersive Video, a remarkable new entertainment format pioneered by Apple. Apple Immersive Video features 180-degree 3D 8K recordings captured with Spatial Audio to transport viewers to the center of a place, moment, or story. At launch, users can enjoy a curated selection of immersive films and series on the Apple TV app at no additional cost.

That link has details about the debut titles:

  • Alicia Keys: Rehearsal Room
  • Adventure — adventure athletes in exotic locations
  • Wild Life
  • Prehistoric Planet Immersive — “Viewers will transport into the daily lives of dinosaurs, experiencing T-Rex teens crashing a quiet colony of pterosaurs on the beach until mama shows up to break up their party, and an intense battle between raptors and a pride of Triceratops in the forest.”

There’s only a handful of these new immersive experiences, but the main thrust of the Newsroom announcement is to emphasize that Vision Pro is a killer device for watching any movies or TV shows.

Hands-On at CES With the Clicks Keyboard Case for iPhone 15 Pro 

Ben Schoon, writing for 9to5Mac:

For a case built for this express purpose, the keys are crucial to get right, and Clicks has nailed it, I think. The keys are rounded and have a bit of space in between each one, but the layout overall feels familiar and well done. The keyboard layout is also specifically designed to be really similar to the default iOS keyboard, which makes it feel all the more familiar.

Each key is also backlit and has an excellent tactile response. That’s the aspect I was most concerned about, and while some of the pre-production models were a little rough, the final version that I was able to test during my hands-on (not pictured) felt perfect. It was clicky and tactile without being loud or too hard to press. [...]

In my brief time using it, I’m very much of the opinion that Clicks is pretty much as good as this concept can be. It’s well-designed, comfortable to use, and hits all of the right notes.


My thanks to Meh for sponsoring last week at DF. Meh is probably the best — and certainly the funnest — daily deal site on the web. Here’s their pitch, in their words:

You don’t want the daily deal at today.

At least, you probably don’t, statistically speaking. But you should go look. Because if you do want it, you really want it, at least for this price. And the cost of checking is, what, 15 seconds of your life?

So go to Decide you don’t want what we’re selling. Go back tomorrow. That’s the whole game.

Yours Truly on the Techmeme Ride Home Podcast 

Brian McCullough had me and Chris Messina on the weekend edition of the excellent Techmeme Ride Home podcast to talk about Vision Pro’s launch (and for me and Chris to argue about hashtags). Fun show. You can even watch on YouTube if that’s your thing.

CNN: ‘FAA Keeps Boeing’s 737 Max 9 Grounded as It Reviews Inspections and Data’ 

Pete Muntean, reporting for CNN:

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday that after reviewing Boeing’s instructions for inspecting grounded 737 Max 9 planes, it has decided to seek more information before allowing the plan to proceed. In a statement, FAA also said it would keep the Boeing 737 Max 9 “grounded until extensive inspection and maintenance is conducted and data from inspections is reviewed.”

The announcement comes exactly one week after the dramatic in-flight incident on Alaska Airlines flight 1282, when a part called a door plug was blown off the side of the plane. [...] 171 of the planes remain grounded in the United States as airlines Alaska and United await updated emergency inspection guidance from the FAA.

The FAA, yesterday:

After taking decisive and immediate action to ground approximately 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX planes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced new and significant actions to immediately increase its oversight of Boeing production and manufacturing. These actions come one day after the FAA formally notified Boeing that the FAA has launched an investigation into the company as a result of last Friday’s incident on a Boeing Model 737-9 MAX in which the aircraft lost a passenger door plug while in flight.

Something has gone deeply wrong at Boeing, a once-great company. This is exactly the sort of situation where government regulators are needed: for issues pertaining to safety.

The Mom and Son Sitting in Front of the Blown Out Window on Alaska Flight 1282 

Dominic Gates, reporting for The Seattle Times last week:

When the Boeing 737 MAX 9’s side blew out explosively on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Friday evening, a 15-year-old high school student was in the window seat in the row directly ahead, his shoulder beside the edge of the gaping hole.

His mother, who was seated beside him, in the middle seat of row 25, described the moment as a very loud bang, like “a bomb exploding.”

As the air in the passenger cabin rushed out, the Oregon woman turned and saw her son’s seat twisting backward toward the hole, his seat headrest ripped off and sucked into the void, her son’s arms jerked upward.

“He and his seat were pulled back and towards the exterior of the plane in the direction of the hole,” she said. “I reached over and grabbed his body and pulled him towards me over the armrest.”

The boy had been wearing a T-shirt and a V-neck pullover windbreaker. Both were ripped off his body. “I could see his back,” Faye said. “My mind just assumed his shirt had been pulled up by me grabbing him. I did not know that it had been torn off. It didn’t even occur to me.”

A harrowing story. If his shirt and pullover were pulled off his body, and his seatbelt headrest sucked through the void, it sure sounds like he was nearly sucked out of the plane. Terrific reporting by Gates, too — the mother’s name is not publicly known, and she was initially resistant to tell her story to the press. She changed her mind only after Alaska Airlines put forth a version of events that made the incident seem far more tame than it clearly was. Good infographics, too.

Unmentioned in the story is whether the passengers near the door plug were wearing their seatbelts. I suspect they all were, perhaps luckily, because the plane had only just taken off and was still ascending to cruise altitude. In years past I’d often leave my seatbelt unbuckled mid-flight, other than when the pilot turned on the mandatory seatbelt light, but a few bouts of out-of-nowhere turbulence over the years changed my mind on that. Never in a million years would I have considered a scenario like this one.

Artifact Is Shutting Down After One Year 

Kevin Systrom:

We’ve made the decision to wind down operations of the Artifact app. We launched a year ago and since then we’ve been working tirelessly to build a great product. We have built something that a core group of users love, but we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way. It’s easy for startups to ignore this reality, but often making the tough call earlier is better for everyone involved. The biggest opportunity cost is time working on newer, bigger and better things that have the ability to reach many millions of people. I am personally excited to continue building new things, though only time will tell what that might be. We live in an exciting time where artificial intelligence is changing just about everything we touch, and the opportunities for new ideas seem limitless.

I am particularly proud of all the work our small team of 8 has accomplished. For instance, our app was recently named the everyday essential app of the year by the Google Play Store.

Winning an award on Android is a little like winning the Canadian Football League title. Artifact had great potential — no surprise given its pedigree: Systrom and Mike Krieger are hall of famers for Instagram — but never became a top-tier iOS app.

When it debuted a year ago, I called it a disappointment:

It’s just ads ads ads, interrupting seemingly every single article, every couple of paragraphs. This same “man, I miss ad blockers” feeling strikes me when I use Apple News too, but Apple News articles have way fewer ads, and better ads, than what I’m seeing so far in articles I read in Artifact. “Like Apple News but worse” is not a good elevator pitch. [...]

Instagram was an instant sensation because it was obviously such a premium experience. Great photos, with cool filters (which filters were necessary to make phone camera pictures look great a decade ago), a simple social concept, all wrapped in a great app. Artifact does feel like a nice app, but the reading experience, at least today, is anything but premium. It feels cheap. And the social aspect isn’t there yet.

I stuck with it all year, but have used it less than ever in recent months. In the first half of 2023, Artifact’s suggestions were improving steadily for me, but in recent months the quality of the suggestions dropped off a cliff for me. Lots of clickbait.

They added the social component, with the ability to post articles and add comments, but those features didn’t make the overall product any better. And while the core reading experience improved, it never improved to the point where it was as good as reading in Safari. Their refusal to focus on providing first and foremost a premium reading experience is exemplified by their own blog post announcing their shutdown. It looks like this on MacOS, and this on iOS. You literally can’t even read the first sentence of the article on the iPhone until you click the little box to dismiss Medium’s dickbox.

Lineup Changes on Apple’s Board of Directors: Al Gore and James Bell Retire; Wanda Austin Joins 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced Dr. Wanda Austin, former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, has been nominated for election to Apple’s board of directors. Dr. Austin brings decades of science and technology experience to her role, and she has a significant track record of advancing innovation and shaping corporate strategy.

As president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, Dr. Austin led an organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. space program and expanding opportunities for future exploration. She was the first woman and the first African American to hold the position. [...]

The board has a longstanding policy that directors generally may not stand for reelection after reaching age 75. As a result, Al Gore, who has served since 2003, and James Bell, who joined in 2015, will both retire from Apple’s board this year.

“We’re deeply grateful to Al and James for their many years of service to Apple — their insights, energy, and values have made us a stronger company in so many ways,” said Cook. “For more than 20 years, Al has contributed an incredible amount to our work — from his unconditional support for protecting our users’ privacy, to his incomparable knowledge of environment and climate issues.”

I strongly suspect that even if Gore had never joined the board, Apple would be a staunchly environmentally-minded company today, but surely Gore pushed them hard in that direction. And I think he was instrumental in Apple’s hiring of Lisa Jackson.

From the DF Archive: Are There Any Tetris Games for Mac? 

My recent spate of Tetris-related links got me thinking again about this post from 2018:

So as far as I can tell, not only is there no official Tetris for Mac, there are no Tetris-like games either. Back in the 90s, there were several really good Tetris games for the Mac. Anyone remember Wesleyan Tetris? It was a goofy version in which the developer, Randall Cook, would rudely critique your gameplay.

If The Tetris Company wants to protect the name “Tetris”, fine, but I think it sucks that there’s no good way to play the game on a Mac today. Every computer should have a good version of Tetris.

Not much has changed from 2018. There is an officially licensed game in the Mac App Store now: Tetris Beat. It’s part of Apple Arcade, so most of you can probably download it and play it. It’s not just plain Tetris — and whatever it is that it wants to be, it sucks. It doesn’t even let you customize the controls. It occupies 2.3 GB on disk after installation. For Tetris! Jiminy. Niklaus Wirth would be rolling over in his (fresh) grave if you told him a Tetris game took 2.3 GB on disk and made the fans get loud on an Apple silicon MacBook Pro when you play it.

The best options for just playing Tetris on a Mac are web games: and Jstris. (I presume both websites are hosted in countries outside the reach of litigious The Tetris Company.) offers “desktop” versions, but their Mac app is an Intel-only Electron app that instantly made the fans on my MacBook Pro veritably roar. It’s far better playing online in Safari, but is geared toward Tetris fanatics, not casual play. Jstris is simpler, but fundamentally exists as a platform for competitive online play. (Go to Play → Practice to just play single player.)

What a sad state of affairs. A hearty fuck you to The Tetris Company for ruthlessly shutting down hobbyist clones while refusing to license a decent official just-plain-Tetris Mac app.

Update: Hard to believe I didn’t come across this on my own, but it turns out The Tetris Company has a decent simple Tetris game on their own website.

Niklaus Wirth: ‘A Plea for Lean Software’ 

From an essay Niklaus Wirth published in IEEE’s “Computer” magazine in 1995 (original PDF), some lessons learned in the development of Wirth’s Oberon system:

  • The belief that complex systems require armies of designers and programmers is wrong. A system that is not understood in its entirety, or at least to significant degree of detail by a single individual, should probably not be built.

  • Communication problems grow as the size of the design team grows. Whether they are obvious or not, when communication problems predominate, the team and the project are both in deep trouble.

  • Reducing complexity and size must be the goal in every step — in system specification, design, and in detailed programming. A programmer’s competence should be judged by the ability to find simple solutions, certainly not by productivity measured in “number of lines ejected per day.” Prolific programmers contribute to certain disaster.

  • Programs should be written and polished until they acquire publication quality. It is infinitely more demanding to design a publishable program than one that “runs.” Programs should be written for human readers as well as for computers. If this notion contradicts certain vested interests in the commercial world, it should at least find no resistance in academia.

Fruit Stripe Gum Discontinued 

Emily Schmall, reporting for The New York Times:

Fruit Stripe, the striped chewing gum known for its short burst of flavor, has been discontinued after more than a half-century, inspiring nostalgic tributes across social media.

“Best two seconds of flavor you’ve ever had,” one Reddit user wrote on Wednesday. “R.I.P. to a legend.”

Rainbow-colored packs of Fruit Stripe gum first appeared in stores in the United States in the late 1960s. Ferrara, a confectioner based in Chicago, said this week that it had stopped making the product.

There were two kinds of Fruit Stripe: chewing gum and bubble gum. I could never decide which was better, so, of course, I always bought a pack of each. (Juicy Fruit, of course, is the superior fruit-flavored stick-shaped chewing gum.)

‘Trump Has Taken Presidential Immunity to Its Illogical Extreme’ 

David A. Graham, writing at The Atlantic:

In a hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court, the former president’s lawyers argued that he should be immune from criminal prosecution for his role in the attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election. This argument has an obvious flaw: It implies that the president is above the law. Such a blunt rejection of the Constitution and the basic concept of American democracy is too much even for Trump to assert — publicly, at least — so his lawyers have proposed a theory. They say that he can’t be criminally prosecuted unless he is first impeached and convicted by Congress.

This argument is no less dangerous, as a hypothetical asked in court demonstrated in chilling terms. Judge Florence Pan asked Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, if “a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival” could be criminally prosecuted. Sauer tried to hem and haw his way through an answer but ultimately stated that such a president couldn’t be prosecuted unless he was first impeached, convicted, and removed by Congress.

“But if he weren’t, there would be no criminal prosecution, no criminal liability for that?” Pan pressed. Sauer had no choice but to agree, because acknowledging any exceptions would have blown a hole in his argument.

The most forgiving take on this argument is that Trump’s legal team doesn’t mean it, and they’re merely stalling for time — throwing as much shit as possible up against the appeals court walls, hoping to delay his umpteen trials until after his possible reelection in a year. But Trump himself clearly means it. (Barry Blitt’s cover illustration for The New Yorker this week is sublime.)

The best refutation of Trump’s argument that presidents are above the law, and accountable only to Congressional impeachment, comes from Representative Jamie Raskin, who points to the glaring game theory hole in this absurd argument: if it were true, the president could order the assassination of any congressperson who threatened to impeach or convict him. As Raskin concluded, “This is the GOP 2024.”

NanoRaptor’s Apple Pascal Poster Recreation 


For Niklaus Wirth, 1934-2024.

Apple’s classic Pascal poster, remade as a nice clean vector image. Print at any size with the PDF link.

Just beautiful.

Niklaus Wirth, Titan of Computer Science and Creator of Pascal, Dies at 89 

Liam Proven, in a nice obituary in The Register:

Swiss computer scientist Professor Niklaus Wirth died on New Year’s Day, roughly six weeks before what would have been his 90th birthday.

Wirth is justly celebrated as the creator of the Pascal programming language, but that was only one step in a series of important languages and research projects. Both asteroid 21655 and a law of computer design are named after him. He won computer-science boffinry’s highest possible gong, the Turing Award, in 1984, and that page has some short English-language clips from a 2018 interview. [...]

As described in C H Lindsey’s History of ALGOL-68 [PDF], when the ALGOL-W proposal was rejected, Wirth resigned from the committee, contributing a strong “Closing Word” to the November 1968 Algol Bulletin 29, containing gems such as:

I pulled out my copy of the draft report on ALGOL-68 and showed it to her. She fainted.

Instead, Wirth took his proposal, changed it to be somewhat less compatible with ALGOL, and released it in 1970 under the name Pascal.

Wirth’s Law encapsulates Wirth’s philosophy: “The hope is that the progress in hardware will cure all software ills. However, a critical observer may observe that software manages to outgrow hardware in size and sluggishness.” Or, as he rephrased it in his paper describing Project Oberon: “In spite of great leaps forward, hardware is becoming faster more slowly than software is becoming slower.” In many ways, this remains the fundamental problem of our entire industry. It’s a truism, and can only be mitigated.

He endorsed simplicity and clarity, and his languages and system designs exemplified those ideals. Studying computer science in the early to mid-1990s, I was among the last to learn Pascal as a teaching language. After outgrowing BASIC, I had actually started learning Pascal my senior year in high school, in a class with just two other students — thanks, Mrs. Spatz — and it was that class that made me want to study computer science in college.

And Pascal was to the original Macintosh what Objective-C was to Mac OS X — the language Apple established as the default for writing application software. Most of the apps that established the Macintosh as the platform for people with good taste in the 1980s and early 1990s were written in Pascal. THINK Pascal was an IDE years — maybe over a decade — ahead of its time. (There were good Pascal systems on the PC side of the fence too.)

13-Year-Old Prodigy Willis ‘Blue Scuti’ Gibson Is First to Beat NES Tetris 

Jason Koebler, writing for 404 Media:

A 13-year-old competitive Tetris player has become the first known human to beat the game on the original NES by forcing it into a kill screen. In doing so, the player, Blue Scuti, broke world records for overall score, level achieved, and total numbers of lines in the 34-year-old game. Previously, only an AI had broken Tetris.

The feat took Blue Scuti about 38 minutes, as shown in a video he posted to his YouTube. As he nears the feat, Blue Scuti says “Oh I missed it,” after misplacing a block. He recovers, then says “Oh my God,” as it seems like he’ll be able to do it. “Please crash,” he says as the blocks careen down the screen impossibly fast. He gets another line and the game freezes: “Oh my God! Yes! I’m going to pass out,” he says. “I can’t feel my hands.”

From Sopan Deb’s story about Gibson for The New York Times:

Ms. Cox bought her son a version of a Nintendo console called a RetroN, which used the same hardware as the original Nintendo console, from a pawnshop, as well as an old cathode-ray tube television to help him get started. In a given week, Willis said, he plays about 20 hours of Tetris.

“I’m actually OK with it,” Ms. Cox, a high school math teacher, said. “He does other things outside of playing Tetris, so it really wasn’t that terribly difficult to say OK. It was harder to find an old CRT TV than it was to say, ‘Yeah, we can do this for a little bit.’”

Koebler’s story ends with a sad note: “Blue Scuti dedicated the game to his dad, Adam Gibson, who died in December.” My mom’s mother died when my mom was just 16, so I’m familiar, second-hand, with how devastating such a loss is. Young Gibson seems utterly delightful — a gracious champion — so we’d all be rooting for him anyway, but this adds a note of poignancy.

Recommended viewing: This 17-minute video from aGameScout is a wonderful, fun explanation of Gibson’s feat — it explains why NES Tetris was, for decades, thought to end at level 29; the new advanced controller techniques that allow elite players to blow past level 29; and suggests future accomplishments that remain unachieved.

Paku Paku – Pac-Man in One Dimension 

More fun to play than you’d think. Via Andy Baio, who’s achieved a high score of 2,689 (!). I thought I did pretty well with a 167 288.

Update: My pal Michael Simmons scored 4,911 playing on his iPhone. Bastard. And, of course, some idle hands on Hacker News wrote a bot to play — just copy the JavaScript and paste it into your browser’s web inspector console. The bot just rang up a 46,372 for me. I love the web.

Humane Lays Off 4 Percent of Employees Before Releasing Its AI Pin 

Alex Heath, reporting for The Verge:

Humane laid off 4 percent of employees this week in a move that was described as a cost cutting measure to those who were impacted, according to sources familiar with the matter. Employees were recently told by leadership that budgets would be lowered this year, said one of the people, who requested anonymity to speak without the company’s permission.

The cuts, which numbered 10 people, come ahead of the five-year-old startup shipping its first device: a $699, screenless, AI-powered pin that is pitched as a smartphone replacement.

In a text message, Bongiorno told me that the cuts were “not communicated as a layoff” to those who were impacted, despite sources telling me that they were — both verbally and in writing. “It goes without saying that, like every company, we have a responsibility to remain prudent and proactive, ensuring we have the right roles, right people, and the right structure at every juncture,” she said.

Layoffs are never good — and layoffs before shipping the company’s first product are a particularly bad look — but 10/250 employees really does sound more like belt-tightening. But I do not think their AI Pin preorder numbers have set the world afire, nor do I think the company’s investors are interested in funding them further. (Sam Altman, Humane’s largest shareholder, is reportedly working with Jony Ive and LoveFrom on “AI hardware”. To me, that’s far more of a warning sign about Humane than their laying off 10 employees.)

Hey Calendar App Is Now in the App Store 

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I’ll admit it was a bit cheeky to make our new HEY Calendar app “do something” by including Apple’s own history as a preview for people who don’t have an account. And I didn’t give the gambit better than 30% odds of succeeding, but lo and behold, it did! Apple has approved our app, and it’s now available in the App Store!

Sanity prevails — but at least I got a good headline out of the story.

Passenger’s iPhone Survived, Intact, 16,000-Foot Fall From Alaska Airlines Plane 

Sean Bates, on Twitter/X:

Found an iPhone on the side of the road... Still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282 Survived a 16,000 foot drop perfectly in tact!

Not only was the phone still in working order — it was seemingly unscathed. It has a case and a screen protector, but landing on grass was surely a huge factor. Just amazing.

When I first saw this story, I was skeptical, wondering how Bates got past the lock screen. But the phone had no passcode, as Bates described in a follow-up video. I find that almost as crazy as the phone surviving a 16,000-foot drop, but I’d probably be shocked to know how many people rock the no-passcode lifestyle. I just don’t get it, given how Face ID makes it feel like you don’t have a passcode.

(Judging by this thread, it’s also apparently quite common for people to turn off Auto-Lock in Settings → Display & Brightness.)

Alaska and United Airlines Report Loose Parts in Boeing 737 Max 9 Door Panels 

PBS News Hour:

Federal investigators say a door panel slid up before flying off an Alaska Airlines jetliner last week, and they are looking at whether four bolts that were supposed to help hold the panel in place might have been missing when the plane took off. The comments Monday from the National Transportation Safety Board came shortly after Alaska and United Airlines reported separately that they found loose parts in the panels — or door plugs — of some other Boeing 737 Max 9 jets.

“Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug — for example, bolts that needed additional tightening,” Chicago-based United said.

Alaska said that as it began examining its Max 9s, “Initial reports from our technicians indicate some loose hardware was visible on some aircraft.”

This tidbit seems nutty to me:

The jet involved in Friday’s blowout is brand-new, having been put in service in November. After a cabin-pressurization system warning light came on during three flights, the airline stopped flying it over the Pacific to Hawaii. Some aviation experts questioned why Alaska continued using the plane on overland routes until it figured out what was causing the pressurization warnings.

Homendy said Monday, however, that NTSB has seen no evidence to link the warnings with the blowout of the door plug.

There may be no evidence yet, but what are the odds that a door plug that blew off a brand-new jet mid-flight — in a fleet of planes they’ve now discovered have loose bolts holding those doors in place — wasn’t to blame for the cabin-pressurization warnings? And, even if it’s true that the pressurization warnings were unrelated to last week’s incident, that’s even worse for Boeing — that would mean they have a problem with these door plugs and an as-yet undetermined other problem. I’m surprised that Boeing’s stock is only down ~8 percent.

‘Get Ready’ 

Apple’s first commercial for Vision Pro is (a) perfect, and (b) a splendid callback to the iPhone’s “Hello” ad. Not a bad list of movies to watch, either.

(I’d bet money that Joz — a Michigan nut — has it debuting during tonight’s college football championship.)


My thanks to Flexibits for sponsoring the previous two weeks at Daring Fireball. Fantastical isn’t just the best calendaring app for iOS and Mac; Cardhop isn’t just the best contacts app for iOS and Mac — these are two of the best apps in the world today, period.

And, lo, Fantastical is no longer just for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. From Apple’s Newsroom announcement about Vision Pro pre-orders and availability today:

An infinite canvas for productivity: With key productivity and collaboration apps like Fantastical, Freeform, JigSpace, apps from Microsoft 365, and Slack, Apple Vision Pro is an ideal productivity tool for everyday tasks.

I believe this means that Fantastical is the first third-party VisionOS app Apple has ever mentioned. Can’t wait to see it.

2023 was a huge year for Flexibits, and they have a terrific year-in-review blog post that runs down all the details. But the highlights are obvious: excellent support for widgets (on all platforms, including interactive widgets on the latest OSes) and Live Activities on iOS. They also added several improvements to their Openings feature that lets people find meeting times that work for everyone.

Flexibits has a killer offer for DF readers: 20 percent off for up to two full years, both for new and current Flexibits subscribers. I just used the code to renew my own annual subscription. Even if your subscription isn’t due for renewal yet, you can apply the code now. But act fast — the deal is only good through the end of day Tuesday.

The CEO of HyperVerse, a Collapsed Crypto Ponzi Scheme, Does Not Appear to Exist 

Sarah Martin, reporting for The Guardian:

A man named Steven Reece Lewis was introduced as the chief executive officer of HyperVerse at an online global launch event in December 2021, with video messages of support from a clutch of celebrities released on Twitter the following month, including from the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and actor Chuck Norris. [...]

Guardian Australia has confirmed that neither the University of Leeds nor the University of Cambridge has any record of someone by the name Steven Reece Lewis on their databases. No records exist of Steven Reece Lewis on the UK companies register, Companies House, or on the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Adobe, a publicly listed company since 1986, has no record of any acquisition of a company owned by a Steven Reece Lewis in any of its public SEC filings. It is understood that Goldman Sachs could find no record of Reece Lewis having worked for the company. Guardian Australia was unable to find a LinkedIn profile for Reece Lewis or any internet presence other than HyperVerse promotional material.

A man who doesn’t actually exist sounds like the perfect CEO for any cryptocurrency company.

Also: Looks like the Woz and Norris “endorsements” were scripts they were paid to read through Cameo.

Finally, Our First ‘Finally’ of the Year Nominee for 2024 

Apple, back at WWDC, announcing Vision Pro (italics added):

Apple Vision Pro starts at $3,499 (U.S.), and will be available early next year on and at Apple Store locations in the U.S., with more countries coming later next year.

Subhead at The Verge, today:

After previewing the VR headset in June 2023, Apple’s $3,499 Vision Pro is finally scheduled to go on sale

BBC News, too: “Apple Vision Pro: $3,499 Headset Finally Gets Release Date”.

The announcement dropped at 9:00 am ET on the first non-holiday Monday of the year.

Vision Pro Pre-Orders Start January 19 (Next Friday), Available Starting February 2 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced Apple Vision Pro will be available beginning Friday, February 2, at all U.S. Apple Store locations and the U.S. Apple Store online. [...] An all-new App Store provides users with access to more than 1 million compatible apps across iOS and iPadOS, as well as new experiences that take advantage of the unique capabilities of Vision Pro. Pre-orders for Apple Vision Pro begin Friday, January 19, at 5 a.m. PST.

A hearty thanks from we East Coasters.

Pricing and Availability:

  • Apple Vision Pro will be available starting at $3,499 (U.S.) with 256GB of storage. Pre-orders for Apple Vision Pro will begin on Friday, January 19, at 5 a.m. PST, with availability beginning Friday, February 2.

During the Vision Pro segment of The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2023, I started describing Vision Pro as “a product coming next year, or early next year, I forget which...”, and Greg Joswiak and Mike Rockwell, in unison, interrupted me to say “Early next year.” I then asked for further clarification on the definition of “early”, and laughter ensued — but Apple wasn’t kidding. This is pretty much as early as early could be in 2024.

  • ZEISS Optical Inserts — Readers will be available for $99 (U.S.), and ZEISS Optical Inserts — Prescription will be available for $149 (U.S.).

It’s new territory for a device to cost more if you require corrective lenses, but it’s the nature of Vision Pro that it will not fit over glasses, so there’s no way around this. People accustomed to $10 readers from the drug store may be surprised at these prices, but these $100–150 seems fair for high-quality lenses. I suspect, though, that there will spring a cottage industry for lower-priced third-party lens inserts.

I still have questions about how buyers will provide their prescriptions to Apple. In most countries, people can just buy corrective glasses and contacts lenses without a prescription, but the U.S. — ostensibly the land of freedom — requires a doctor’s prescription. (Ophthalmologists have a strong lobbying group.)

  • Apple Vision Pro comes with a Solo Knit Band and Dual Loop Band — giving users two options for the fit that works best for them. Apple Vision Pro also includes a Light Seal, two Light Seal Cushions, an Apple Vision Pro Cover for the front of the device, Polishing Cloth, Battery, USB-C Charge Cable, and USB-C Power Adapter.

Also unclear at the moment: How many different Light Seals are available? What app will online buyers use to scan their faces for sizing? How much will extra Light Seals (for additional users) cost?

And how much will the storage tiers above 256 GB cost? Here are Apple’s current price deltas from 256 GB for iPad Pro and iPhone 15 Pro:

iPad Pro iPhone 15 Pro
512 GB $200 $200
1 TB $600 $400
2 TB $1,000
President Biden in Valley Forge: ‘Democracy Is Still a Sacred Cause, and There’s No Country in the World Better Positioned to Lead the World Than America’ 

Remarkable speech by President Biden, on the eve of the third anniversary of Trump’s Capitol insurrection:

Let’s be clear about the 2020 election. Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election. Every one, but the legal path just took Trump back to the truth, that I’d won the election and he was a loser.

Well, so knowing how his mind works now, he had one, he had one act left. One desperate act available to him, the violence of January the sixth.

Since that day, more than 1,200 people have been charged with assault in the Capitol. Nearly 900 of them have been convicted or pled guilty. Collectively to date, they have been sentenced to more than 840 years in prison.

What’s Trump done? Instead of calling them criminals, he’s called these insurrectionists patriots. They’re patriots. And he promised to pardon them if he returns to office. Trump said that there was a lot of love on January the sixth.

The rest of the nation, including law enforcement, saw a lot of hate and violence.

The AP has a transcript, but I suggest watching it. Biden gets it. Democracy is our sacred cause. It’s that simple. Trump lost, and he tried his ham-fisted best to stay in office anyway. Quoting Biden: “We all know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is: Who are we?”

Nancy Pelosi: ‘Three Years After January 6’ 

Nancy Pelosi, writing in The Atlantic:

The threat to our democracy is real, present, and urgent. The parable of January 6 reminds us that our precious democratic institutions are only as strong as the courage and commitment of those entrusted with their care. We all share a responsibility to preserve American democracy, which Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth.”

From the DF Archive: Mobile Phone Keyboards, Circa 2009 

Yours truly, back when the iPhone 3GS was new:

I think the question boils down to whether Apple is making a mistake by not making an iPhone with a hardware keyboard. I’m convinced the answer is no — that (a) there will never be an iPhone with a built-in hardware keyboard; and (b) Apple will not suffer for it. [...]

Are software touchscreen keyboards good for everyone? Certainly not. But this is another aspect of the Apple Way. Apple tries to make things that many people love, not things that all people like. The key is that they’re not afraid of the staunch criticism, and often outright derision, that comes with breaking conventions.

Holds up. In 2023 it seems wild that Apple’s all-in bet on touchscreen keyboards for iPhones was controversial at all, let alone the subject of vociferous debate for years.

Ryan Seacrest Tried Making an iPhone Hardware Keyboard Case 10 Years Ago 

If the aforelinked new Clicks keyboard case for iPhones rings a bell, here’s Jon Fingas reporting for Engadget 10 years ago:

The market for keyboard-equipped phones may be on the wane, but don’t tell that to Ryan Seacrest — the American Idol host is convinced that messaging mavens need real buttons. To that end, he’s jumping into hardware and launching the Typo Keyboard for the iPhone 5 and 5S. The Bluetooth case turns an Apple handset into a makeshift BlackBerry Q10, complete with backlit, sculpted keys that cover up the iPhone’s home button (there’s a small substitute key); we hope you don’t need multitasking, folks. The Typo Keyboard will make its formal debut at CES in early January, and it should ship that month for $99.

The Typo keyboard was doomed in more ways than one: it used unreliable battery-draining Bluetooth, not a wired connection; iOS didn’t have good hardware keyboard support at the time; and, as Fingas alludes in his description above, the Typo keyboard’s design covered the iPhone’s home button. That was pretty much a dealbreaker for the iPhone 5S, which introduced Touch ID.

Even worse, the shell of the company that was once the mighty BlackBerry sued Typo for patent infringement, won, and eventually drove Typo out of business. (Kudos to NBC News for that “Seacrest Out” headline.)

Clicks: New Hardware Keyboard for iPhone 

I never even owned a smartphone with a hardware keyboard, but as soon as I saw this I wanted one: Clicks is a new $139 hardware keyboard case for the iPhone 14 Pro, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max (that one will cost $159 — Max phones have max prices). One of the creators of the project is Michael “MrMobile” Fisher, who, of course, created a YouTube video for the project. (One of his co-creators is CrackBerry Kevin — so there are some serious “hardware phone keyboard aficionado” bona fides on the team.)

I don’t know how much I’ll wind up using it but it looks fun, useful, and clever — and I’m just a sucker for upstart indie hardware projects. Clicks is even a great name. There’s no Bluetooth involved — it connects via Lightning or USB-C, just like any hardware keyboard can via a cable. If you’ve never connected a hardware keyboard to an iPhone before, you might be surprised how many keyboard shortcuts there are (Command-Space for Spotlight, Space and Shift-Space for paging down and up in Safari, Command-H to go to the Home screen, and more.)

You’ll never guess which color I pre-ordered.

The Talk Show: ‘Halos and Harps’ 

Apple’s 2023 year in review, with Callsheet developer Casey Liss.

Sponsored by:

  • Memberful: Monetize your passion with membership. Start your free trial today.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
‘Like I Said Many Years Ago, I Never Had a Problem With Drugs, Only With Cops.’ 

I stumbled across an old note where I’d stashed some favorite quotes from Keith Richards; figured I’d append a few of them to my post from a few weeks ago on his 80th birthday.

Tip of the Day: Finding Unknown ‘Items’ in Your iCloud Photo Library 

For at least a few years, I’ve been mildly annoyed by the fact that my iCloud Photo Library reported containing something like “50,783 Photos, 3,643 Videos, 2 Items”. The counts for photos and videos weren’t the problem — the problem was the “2 Items”. What were they?

Caleb Hailey had the same problem, and posted a super-simple solution to Mastodon: a custom smart album for Photos for Mac with a dozen or so criteria like this:

  • Filename does not include “.jpeg”
  • Filename does not include “.png”
  • Filename does not include “.heic”

and so forth. A few minutes of busy work and I found my culprits: two AAC audio files that were each just a few seconds long, and seemingly empty. I have no idea how or when they got into my Photos library but I’m delighted to have them gone.

Worth pointing out: You don’t need to build up a list of every single filename extension that’s an image or video that you do want to keep in Photos. Once I built up a list of excluded filename extensions that whittled the list of matching items to 32, I just went through the items visually. The two AAC files stuck out like sore thumbs.

Also worth pointing out: You cannot create smart albums in Photos on iPadOS or iOS. Only MacOS. (Same thing goes for smart mailboxes in Apple Mail.) Apple still treats the iPad and iPhone as baby computers.

See also: A similar problem I had back in 2016, in which I had five unnamed items in my Photos library that could not be synced to iCloud. The solution to that one was also a smart album — and thus also a problem that could only be solved using a Mac.