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Gaddgict

Daily analysis on Apple, gadgets, tech news, and more.

A feed by Lance Somoza

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No, Apple doesn’t need to be at CES

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-13 00:04

Jeremy Horwitz for Venturebeat on Apple’s CES presence:

My position: Apple’s 2009 withdrawal from trade shows may have been justifiable back then, but the overall impact has been negative. Additionally, Apple’s related decision to move most of its product launches to a single quarter each year has damaged the brand, despite the strength of Apple’s sales and stock. However, unless certain highly improbable changes are made at CES, this particular trade show is not the right venue for Apple. Instead, the company should leverage its incredible retail infrastructure to do something different.

Not sure how it has damaged the brand, specifically. He goes on to address Apple’s ‘boring calendar’:

On a highly related note, Apple never formally said that it was going to stop staggering major new product releases across the year, but that’s effectively what happened: Since Tim Cook took over, Apple has announced almost nothing of significance until WWDC in June, and the vast majority of new products are released during a narrow window from mid-September to early November.

And:

Some people have suggested that fewer events are the natural result of maturing products — version 1 deserves a splashy event whenever, but no one will care to show up for the “special” debut of a slightly slimmer version 2, or a waterproof version 3, which could arrive via press release. That’s Apple’s problem to remedy, partially with more breakthrough products, and partially with developer engagement and marketing to show how seemingly small changes — say, adding a game controller and games to the Apple TV — could disrupt an entire industry.

Alright, here we go. Products are ready when they are ready, even if they are delayed (e.g. Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod). Furthermore, Apple isn’t the same company it was ten years ago, where they could release more throughout the year at a much smaller scale. Everything they make now has to be produced in massive quantities. Care and precision is key and extremely difficult, as we’re seeing by delayed products.

Jeremy’s proposal on changing things up:

Perhaps Apple’s “goodbye, Macworld” press release had the best idea of them all: Since Apple’s retail stores see millions of visits per week, why not bring them all together once or twice a year for global-scale special events?

Live from Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, the company could simultaneously broadcast a keynote to all of its retail stores, complete with a window of limited hands-on time with new products for press and customers. Imagine the lines and the local media coverage; they would be off the charts, and diversify the voices offering perspectives on new Apple products.

The full list of reasons why this would never happen is a big one, so I’ll cut it down to a top few:

  1. Apple would never allow just anyone who shows up to have hands-on time with unreleased products, whether they be hardware or software. It’s a huge part of their M.O. — one that I don’t see ever changing. Allowing first-look experiences for YouTubers in a controlled environment is as close as we’ll ever get to this idea.
  2. Just imagine the damning press and social media calamity if someone were to record a device failing, malfunctioning, or worse.
  3. Having these events would send a confusing message to the uninitiated, perhaps encouraging the idea that all announced products will be available for purchase immediately following the keynote.
  4. Shutting down a large portion of the store, if not all for approximately two hours is a terrible idea for the world’s top retailer in sales per square foot.

Apple doesn’t need to be at CES and they don’t need streamed events to their own stores. Here’s what they really need to do:

  1. Keep making exceptional products.

That’s it. There are definitely areas of improvement that will get them there, such as:

  1. Making better hardware for pros. This includes fixing the host of concerns with MacBook Pros. They are already on the right track with iMac Pro, to be followed by a new Mac Pro.
  2. Dialing in the supply chain for increasingly-complex components. Notice how fast iPhone X caught up with demand? Good sign of improvement, wouldn’t you say?
  3. Increasing software Q.A. efforts to cut down on bugs and security holes.

As long as Apple continues to focus on making the best products for their customers, something tells me they’ll be alright with skipping a trade show.


High Sierra App Store preferences can be accessed with any password

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-10 18:58

Joe Rossignol for MacRumors:

A bug report submitted on Open Radar this week reveals a security vulnerability in the current version of macOS High Sierra that allows the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password.

And:

As mentioned in the radar, System Preferences does not accept an incorrect password with a non-administrator account. We also weren’t able to unlock any other System Preferences menus with an incorrect password.

We’re unable to reproduce the issue on the third or fourth betas of macOS High Sierra 10.13.3, suggesting Apple has fixed the security vulnerability in the upcoming release. However, the update currently remains in testing.

Apple has really been dropping the ball with these breaches lately. Though App Store preferences are not as concerning as say, access to the whole system, the reality is still unacceptable.


AirPods 2 Wishlist

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-06 02:59

I love AirPods, as you may be able to glean from my official review. They are a product everyone expected Apple to make, but their astounding quality and value took everyone by surprise (yours truly included). So much so that Apple can’t make them fast enough, being virtually out of stock since launching in December 2016. Shipping time was finally down to a few days recently, only to be pushed out again do to the holiday shopping season. Suffice it to say, AirPods have been a massive sleeper hit.

I’m still blown away by how amazing these little things are. That said, here’s how I think Apple can iterate for AirPods 2.

Little Things

New W-series chip

AirPods have great Bluetooth connectivity and battery life, but Apple has room for gains here. The current AirPods introduced the W1 chip — Apple’s own wireless silicon for their custom Bluetooth stack. A second generation W2 chip has already found its way into Apple Watch Series 3, but it handles both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the device. Perhaps we’ll see a W2X or W3 chip customized for new AirPods.

“Hey Siri” support

I’m surprised this wasn’t baked in with the current AirPods, but perhaps it’s a battery thing. I think this would be far more elegant than double-tapping the pod itself. It would enable for faster track control, as well (i.e. play/pause, volume, previous/next).

Better volume control

This is probably the biggest complaint I’ve heard about AirPods, aside from fit issues. If you have an Apple Watch, this is less of a problem, as you can control volume from your wrist. Other methods include adjusting from iPhone or double-tapping and asking Siri (both slow).

Here’s the setup I’d like to see:

  • Default: double-tap for Volume Down, triple-tap for Volume Up.
  • Options to change double-tap and triple-tap to Previous Track/Next Track.
  • Option to enable double-tap for Siri.

This would be one setting across both AirPods (as opposed to the current per-AirPod setup). This way, you get the same experience if you’re wearing only one AirPod at a time (either one). Triple taps would would necessitate the need for an upgraded accelerometer, so add that to the list.

Improved sound

AirPods sound plainly good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Current peak volume, mids, and highs are respectable for their small size. Bass is another story. You probably wouldn’t want AirPods specifically for bass-heavy music, but for better bass, you need to move a lot of air. And to move a lot of air, you need a larger device. AirPods aren’t going to get bigger, so we’ll see if Apple’s killer audio engineering team can work even more magic here.

Fit tweaks

Fun fact: my right AirPod fits better in my right ear than my left. The left is a little loose, but it usually doesn’t fall out unless I’m moving around a lot. That said, maybe Apple can add tiny bumps or padding to allow AirPods to hold onto your ears a little better. Either that, or make two sizes? Something tells me it won’t come to that.

Standard wireless charging case

Apple announced a new wireless charging case for current AirPods to work with their upcoming AirPower mat. No further details have been announced, although its price is rumored to be $69. It must be purchased separately for us existing AirPods owners, but I’m confident Apple will bundle this in with AirPods 2.

New colors

This is a wildcard. I feel like they may leave colored accessories to the Beats line so as to retain their iconic ‘Apple White’ look. Either way, I’d love to see AirPods available in these staples:

  • Space Gray
  • Gold 1
  • Product (RED) 2

Better Device Switching

This is my biggest complaint with AirPods. I have a problem a few Apple devices, and switching my AirPods from one to the other has become a huge chore for the past six months or so. I don’t know if it was an AirPods firmware update, iOS 11 update, or a combination of both that caused it, but they are definitely slower at switching between devices than when they first came out.

While writing this, my AirPods are connected to my iPad Pro, despite Control Center not reflecting as such (see video below). Yay, bugs! Anyway, I just switched my AirPods continuously through three devices: my iPad Pro, iPhone X, and iPhone 7 I use for work. Every time I switched, it took about 10 seconds for AirPods to connect. Not terrible, but it absolutely doesn’t happen that fast every time. It seems to be more of an issue when using one AirPod at a time, or if each AirPod was independently connected to different devices last and you’re trying to switch one of them. I don’t know what it is, but it needs to be fixed for those of us with multiple devices.

I will also get an endless ‘loading indicator of doom’ far too often when switching.

AirPods connect successfully, but Control Center gets stuck on ‘iPad.’ Bad Control Center, bad.

Better Auto Sensing

Ever had this happen while lying down in bed?

  1. Pop AirPods in.
  2. Wait for the ‘connected’ confirmation sound like a dummy.
  3. Sit up or move your head around like a mad man until they finally auto-connect.

In other words, AirPods only auto sense your ears if you are mostly vertical. This needs to be improved for us loungers. A combination of upgraded sensors and firmware should do the trick.

Band Equalizer

This is tangentially related, but Come. On. As I’ve ranted about before, we still don’t have a real EQ on iOS. This just cannot stand anymore. Apple the music company needs to deliver. And don’t give us that BS about an EQ having an impact on battery life.

Launch

So that’s about it. If I had go guess as to when second generation AirPods would surface, I’d say Fall 2018. Apple’s Fall event is typically when they make music-related announcements, and pairing AirPods with the typical Apple Watch refresh timeframe makes sense. After all, the current model was announced around this time for an October launch (then postponed to December).


  1. R.I.P. Rose Gold. There’s a new Gold in town. ↩︎

  2. Please, Apple? ↩︎


Panic to cease development, sales of iOS file transfer app Transmit

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-05 23:25

Cabel Sasser on the Panic Blog:

Transmit for iOS always felt like an obvious addition to our lineup, but we never thought it made a ton of sense in the tightly-restricted world of iOS until Apple announced the “Share Sheet” for iOS 8. Finally, we thought, in addition to using Transmit iOS to upload/download whatever you need, you could easily (?) get data out of apps and send it to your favorite servers. So, in 2014, we built it!

On lack of sustainability:

Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app. And the app needs full-time work […]

On the future of iPad productivity apps:

My optimistic take: we hope that as iOS matures, and more and more pro users begin to seriously consider the iPad as a legitimate part of their daily work routines, Transmit iOS can one day return and triumph like it does on the Mac.

The idea of this needing to happen really sucks, but it’s not Panic’s fault. Apple has only recently begun to capitalize on the form factor and power of iPad. The latest iPad Pro models in conjunction with iOS 11 are huge stepping stones for real productivity when it comes to the tablet as a form factor. As I’ve said before, I use mine to wholly write and publish this blog.

I have been a long-time user of Transmit on iOS, and while it won’t disappear if you already bought it, it’s sad to see development and sales end. I really wish they could have stuck it out longer, as I think iPad is going to have its watershed moment for productivity in the next two years (perhaps with the adoption of an iPhone X-esque edge-to-edge screen, TrueDepth Camera, and Face ID).


Apple apologizes, explains, and offers discounted $29 battery replacement

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-29 06:09

Apple today released a statement formally addressing their practice of throttling iPhone performance based on aging batteries. Here are the highlights.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

They then go into a great detail explaining the chemistry of batteries themselves:

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.

On preventing unexpected shutdowns:

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations. Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.

A case of ‘heart in the right place’, but severely lacking in execution.

Here’s the good stuff:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

Apple really nailed this apology/explainer/discount. They explained the issue, chemistry, and rationale perfectly, using the most accessible language I’ve ever seen in one of these letters. 1 However, they clearly didn’t think anyone would notice this practice, otherwise they would have seen this shitstorm coming from a mile away. What was it I said not long ago about Internet backlash? Ah yes, it’s swift and damning. This just goes to show nobody can hide anything for long from determined geeks.

I hope their new battery features include a choice like this. Until then, it’s back to hating on the MacBook Pro keyboard I guess?


  1. It feels very human, unlike typical PR mechanical fluff. ↩︎


HTC, Motorola claim to not throttle CPU performance as phone batteries age

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-28 16:30

Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:

In emails to The Verge, both companies said they do not employ similar practices with their smartphones. An HTC spokesperson said that designing phones to slow down their processor as their battery ages “is not something we do.” A Motorola spokesperson said, “We do not throttle CPU performance based on older batteries.”

The Verge also reached out to Google, Samsung, LG, and Sony for comment on whether their phone processors are throttled in response to aging batteries. A Sony spokesperson said a response would be delayed by the holidays, and a Samsung spokesperson said the company was looking into it.

Effortless, positive PR for HTC and Motorola, but also Android as a whole. Most people will see this as Android versus Apple, not Apple vs. HTC vs. Motorola vs. LG vs. Samsung, et al.

Though I still don’t agree with how Apple carried out their throttling, I’d take a slowed-down iPhone over an Android device any day. In fact, I’d be curious to compare real life results (read: not quantitative benchmarks) between a throttled iPhone 7 and a comparable Android device.


Offering Choice in New Ways

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-23 18:16

Apple has been put through the ringer this week on what will hopefully be their last “controversy” of 2017. The charge? Intentionally slowing down aging iPhone models. It turns out there is truth to this old trope, but not for the reason you would think.

Quick Catch-Up

It all started last week when one redditor restored the performance of his iPhone 6S to optimal levels after replacing the battery. 1 The original reddit post was copied to pastebin, but here’s the current thread.

Redditor TeckFire:

I did a Geekbench score, and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change wether I had low power mode on or off. After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi. From what I can tell, Apple slows down phones when their battery gets too low, so you can still have a full days charge.

Since then, Apple published this official statement on the matter:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

Miscalculated Methods

I believe Apple’s intentions were in the right place. There’s no reason to think they weren’t. I believe they always try to put the customer first, which has made them incredibly successful.

That said, any way you spin it, the optics here are terrible. For years, people have speculated about Apple intentionally slowing down older technology when new software updates are released, which has always been refuted with evidence. Admitting the slowing down of old iPhone models for any reason was never going to go over well. In fact, they have already been sued three times since their admission.

This seems like a classic damned if they do/damned if they don’t scenario. If Apple did nothing, the ‘planned obsolescence’ trope moves forward in a different way when you have phones dying at 30% battery for seemingly no reason.

I do question their methods. Apple provides a disclaimer when your battery needs to be serviced, but it is easily missed and hidden away in Settings. They should have made the notice abundantly clear, instead of downplaying it.

Depiction of the disclaimer, hidden away in Settings.
Depiction of the disclaimer, hidden away in Settings.

Problem with Choice

Should Apple have offered this setting change as a choice? Let’s first consider some of their history on the subject.

Apple has always been accused of not giving customers enough choice (especially on iOS). Lack of customization and utility early on spurred the jailbreak movement, creating choice where there was none. The reality nowadays is an abundance of choice; enough to render jailbreaking irrelevant. Does Apple always offer choice when there should be? I wouldn’t say so, but it’s not for nefarious reasons. Although, it can make choice on iOS sometimes feel like an illusion. 2 Here’s an example:

Outside of Apple Music, they haven’t integrated music streaming services with Siri just yet. Obviously, integrating first-party services is much easier and has advantages (e.g. controlling music via Siri on Apple Watch), but writing an API for other services to play music must be a gargantuan task. Just think of all the variables at play (artist, album, track, composer, genre, etc.) among many nuances. I would expect to see Apple open this up as early as iOS 12 — the timing feels right. Suffice it to say, I don’t think they are completely holding out on Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, and the others.

One more: twelve years into the platform, you still can’t choose ‘default’ apps on iOS. This is probably a decently-sized task as well, but one I feel should have arrived already.

Now, back to the matter at hand. Offering throttling as an option to the user sounds like a very un-Apple thing to do. Apple would never want its customers to deliberately make such a large trade off, but if they were going to do something about it anyway, why not? In theory, it sounds like the choice would be incredibly inelegant. In fact, I wouldn’t expect them to ask the question as a simple yes/no. I would have liked to see something like this:

  1. Prompt the user about their battery issue and explain the throttling, along with a button to learn more via an option in Settings.
  2. Turn on throttling.
  3. Allow user to turn off throttling in Settings, but prompt them with the original notice every time.

The prompt could be as simple as:

Mockup of how I think Apple could have handled this.
Mockup of how I think Apple could have handled this.

This would have been a simple CYA step that could have avoided a lot of this mess. I think Apple needs to think a bit harder about offering choice in new ways, especially in a day and age where devices last much longer than they used to. We’ll see if there is any course-correction moving forward or if they double down.


  1. As reported by the benchmarking app ‘Geekbench’. ↩︎

  2. As Agent Smith would say. ↩︎


Fatherboard Episode 008: The Next Oil Industry

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-18 04:51

Summary

Dad and I talk Apple Pay Cash, iMac Pro, Lance’s new MacBook Pro keyboard, Net Neutrality, and a special giveaway!

Topics

  • Intro: Brian Setzer’s Christmas Show
  • Apple Pay Cash and Competitors
  • iMac Pro Recap
  • Apple Acquires Shazam
  • Lance’s MacBook Pro gets new keys
  • More thoughts on HomePod
  • FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules
  • Mozilla’s misguided ‘Mr. Robot’ plugin
  • Giveaway: Anker PowerCore 13000

Links

How to Listen

Contact/Follow Us


Giveaway: Anker PowerCore 1300

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-17 16:02

If you’re just joining us, I started an Apple-centric personal tech blog earlier this year called Gaddgict. I have since changed the site’s name to One-Tech Mind, which I feel better exemplifies myself and my aspirations. I also started Fatherboard, the official podcast for One-Tech Mind with my Dad (also technically-minded). We actually have a new episode coming out today, so it’s a perfect time to subscribe.

Approaching the end of the year, I wanted to share with you a few of my top posts, along with a little giveaway to celebrate.

Top Posts

Giveaway

Anker PowerCore 1300
Anker PowerCore 1300

Now for the good part! I’m giving away a really fantastic way to keep your iPhone (and other devices) charged on the go: (1) Anker Powercore 13000. Make sure you enter for a chance to win.

Rules

  • Winner: Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.

  • Requirements for participation:

    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia.
    • Follow @OneTechMind on twitter. And hey, if you don’t like my stuff, no hard feelings if you unfollow me later!
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Thanks for reading and good luck!


Mozilla’s sneaky, misguided ‘Mr. Robot’ promo plugin

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-17 00:37

Kate Conger for Gizmodo:

Mozilla sneaked a browser plugin that promotes Mr. Robot into Firefox—and managed to piss off a bunch of its privacy-conscious users in the process.

The extension, called Looking Glass, is intended to promote an augmented reality game to “further your immersion into the Mr. Robot universe,” according to Mozilla. It was automatically added to Firefox users’ browsers this week with no explanation except the cryptic message, “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS,” prompting users to worry on Reddit that they’d been hit with spyware.

Mozilla’a defense of the plugin:

Mozilla justified its decision to include the extension because Mr. Robot promotes user privacy. “The Mr. Robot series centers around the theme of online privacy and security,” the company said in an explanation of the mysterious extension. “One of the 10 guiding principles of Mozilla’s mission is that individuals’ security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. The more people know about what information they are sharing online, the more they can protect their privacy.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

This is incredibly wrong on so many levels, all for what I can imagine is a nice paycheck. Mozilla’s cited guiding principle completely contradicts the nature in which this plugin was installed. I can’t fathom how they can be so insanely obtuse. Mozilla, typical bastion of privacy, security, and general do-goodedness, has taken a terribly misguided step here. Asking fans of the show to download the plugin would have been the most sensible way to play this, instead of hiding behind the guise of the alternate reality game itself.

How do companies pull crap like this and think they can get away with it? Internet backlash is swift and damning. I was going to say I’d expect this more from Google than Mozilla, but I don’t think even Google would be so reckless as to try something like this.

Due to the blowback, Mozilla has pledged to move the plugin to its rightful place in the extension store (hey, imagine that). Regardless, they should be embarrassed by this nonsense.


Apple’s iMac Pro is a love letter to developers

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-14 17:40

Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch:

The iMac Pro exists because it turns out that there is a lot of air underneath the aging Mac Pro and above the incredibly popular MacBook Pro. A single-digit percentage of Mac customers buy the Mac Pro and, in recent years, Apple had been seeing a major rise in “pro” customers of all shades purchasing iMacs because of their incredible screens, all-in-one form factor and overall ease of deployment.

Ports-a-plenty:

The rear ports are definitely different, of course. You have 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, which run on two separate controllers, 2 ports each. So you should get blazing speeds on those whether they’re used for e-GPUs or storage or displays. There are 4 USB 3.0 A ports and SD slot and, for the first time ever, a 10 Gigabit ethernet port right on the back.

Configurations:

Not every configuration of the iMac Pro will be available to order today online and in stores next week. You’ll be able to get the 8 and 10-core Intel Xeon W versions of the machine with any other memory, graphics or storage options you like, but the 14 and 18-core editions are just orderable now for delivery in January. Those new core configurations are previously unannounced options. Each has 1MB of L2 and 1.365MB of L3 cache.

This thing sounds incredible. I’d love to have one, but it’s way beyond me. It should be a nice stopgap while developers seeking even more power (or a purely standalone Mac) await the completely-redesigned Mac Pro. I bet the space grey accessories will go for a pretty penny on eBay since you can’t buy them separately.


TechCrunch: Apple to acquire Shazam

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-08 23:35

Ingrid Lunden and Katie Roof for TechCrunch:

As Spotify continues to inch towards a public listing, Apple is making a move of its own to step up its game in music services. Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.

We have heard that the deal is being signed this week, and will be announced on Monday, although that could always change.

One source describes the deal as in the nine figures; another puts it at around £300 million ($401 million). We are still asking around. Notably, though, the numbers we’ve heard are lower than the $1.02 billion (according to PitchBook) post-money valuation the company had in its last funding round, in 2015.

Obvious Apple Music and Siri benefits aside, Apple must be really impressed with Shazam’s underlying technology to make this purchase. I’ve never seen anyone use Shazam on a TV show or in any capacity other than identifying music, but there could be some real benefits to tried and tested audio recognition down the line (e.g. AR, advanced Siri functions, HomePod).


Jony Ive resumes direct management of Apple Design team

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-08 21:20

Juli Clover for MacRumors:

Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive is once again taking over management of the design team at Apple according to changes made to Apple’s official “Apple Leadership” website.

The site was updated this morning to remove the profiles of Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, who were managing the day-to-day operations at Apple while Ive oversaw all of Apple’s design projects, and Bloomberg has confirmed that Ive is once again in direct control of the team as shared by Mark Gurman.

Ive first stepped back from day-to-day management of Apple’s design teams in 2015, when he took on the role of “Chief Design Officer.” Alan Dye and Richard Howarth were elevated to vice president positions at that time, with Howarth responsible for industrial design and Dye responsible for user interface design.

There is one of two stories here. Either Apple is executing a plan long in the making now that Jony is done with the new campus and retail makeover (most likely), or this is a reactive measure to something bigger.

In the case for something bigger: Apple makes polarizing decisions, but none have been more divisive than ones introduced in the past few years (largely dealing with MacBook), such as:

  1. MacBook Pro Touch Bar
  2. MacBook Pro butterfly keys 1
  3. MacBook: Lack of ports (only USB-C)
  4. iPhone X: the TrueDepth camera notch

Although Jony has no doubt been engaged with all these hardware and software design changes, his attention has absolutely been elsewhere. Also, let’s not get software design confused with software engineering — a sensitive area for Apple as of late with multiple widespread bugs. We can argue the software design of Apple’s systems all day, but the area needing more attention right now is hardware design.

Either way, I’m more interested to see what exactly has happened to Alan Dye and Richard Howarth.

Updated on 12/8 at 1:26 PM:

Bloomberg’s piece includes this predictable statement from Apple:

“With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said Friday in a statement.


  1. Finally took my 2016 MacBook Pro in to the Apple Store this past week for the ‘sticky’ keys problem. ↩︎


Apple Pay Cash slowly rolls out

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-05 04:04

Updated 12/5 at 11:00 AM Pacific: Apple confirms Apple Pay Cash is officially available.

Updated 12/5 at 1:30 PM Pacific: watchOS 4.2 for Apple Watch is now available with Apple Pay Cash support.

Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge:

Apple was forced to release iOS 11.2 on Saturday, which was a little earlier than planned, due to a software bug. Now, Apple Pay Cash — one of the marquee features of the update — is being activated for users.

Apple Pay Cash lets users send and receive money directly though iMessages, similar to Venmo or Square Cash. Money that people send you will live on a digital Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app, which users can spend anywhere that Apple Pay is accepted, or send to other people. (The new feature is only available in the US for now, though.)

Nice to see this finally launch (if in a weird way), after being delayed from the original iOS 11 release.

The setting to activate Apple Pay Cash seems to be rolling out slowly, as mine didn’t appear until about 7pm Pacific. To check if it’s active for you, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay. Once set up, you’ll find your Apple Pay Cash card inside the Wallet app (along with a cool shimmering animation when you tilt your phone). As you can see in the featured image above, you can send and receive cash in Messages via the Cash app in the app drawer. 1 My Dad … graciously helped me test this important new feature.

This really demonstrates what a trojan horse the Messages app has become (in a good way). Don’t underestimate how important iMessage is to Apple. It’s one of the main reasons people love iPhone, and it keeps them locked into the Apple ecosystem.

It won’t be too long before iOS users relegate Venmo/Square Cash/PayPal to payment methods only for cross-platform because of Apple Pay Cash being baked in.


  1. That was a mouthful. ↩︎


Fatherboard Episode 007: Oh No, It’s A Mac

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-05 02:37

Summary

Dad and I discuss Apple’s multiple software bugs this past week, iOS 11.2 and Apple Pay Cash, HomePod delay, how Gaddgict became One-Tech Mind, and more! This episode (and all going forward) includes MP3 chapters thanks to Marco Arment’s Forecast tool. Thanks, Marco! To see them, listen to Fatherboard in Overcast.

Topics

  • Intro: House of Blues
  • Apple software bugs or “Bug Week”
    • I Am Root vulnerability
    • I Am Root patch caused another bug for some
    • December 2 notification bug
  • iOS 11.2 and Apple Pay Cash
  • E-Mail is a Necessary Evil
  • Mom’s MacBook Pro Update
  • HomePod delay & Future Siri
  • Trouble Paying iPhone Screen Replacement Fee
  • Gaddgict becomes One-Tech Mind
  • USC wins PAC-12 Championship (may include minor Stanford bashing).

Links

How to Listen

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Apple releases iOS 11.2 with Apple Pay Cash to address date and time bug, other fixes

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-02 16:11

Apple has released iOS 11.2 to address the nasty date and time bug discovered late last night. This is definitely an unprecedented action for them, but I suppose a good decision as long as iOS 11.2 doesn’t break anything else.

The full release notes are below, and include many other improvements/fixes. Despite the nature of the release, there is some pretty nice stuff listed here. NOTE: Apple Pay Cash is included, but it won’t be active until next week.

Full release notes for iOS 11.2:

  • iOS 11.2 introduces Apple Pay Cash to send, request and receive money from friends and family with Apple Pay. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website.
  • Other improvements and fixes:
  • Adds support for faster wireless charging on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X with compatible third-party accessories.
  • Introduces three new Live wallpapers for iPhone X.
  • Improves video camera stabilization.
  • Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show.
  • Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type.
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete.
  • Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear.
  • Improves stability in Calendar.
  • Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen.
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen.
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen.
  • Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen.
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded.
  • Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map.
  • Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message.
  • Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results.
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly.
  • Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store and Music.
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications.


iPhone date and time bug causing random ‘resprings’

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-02 07:30

Chance Miller for 9to5Mac:

Just days after the huge root security flaw on macOS earlier this week, a growing number of iPhone and iPad users are reporting serious reboot and respring issues. The problem, detailed in a growing Reddit thread and on Twitter, seems to stem from apps that use local notifications, such as reminder applications like Headspace and Calm…

One Reddit user claims to have spoken with a senior Apple representative who informed him that the company is working on a fix.

Just spoke to a senior Apple rep and they too suggested manually setting the date to 1 day before the problem started – this was 1 Dec for me and it worked (I’m on an iPhone X running iOS 11.1.2 (15B202)) – or resetting all settings to default.

They did mention that they’re presently being flooded with calls reporting the same issue and that their ‘Engineering team’ is working on it figuring out what the problem is.

Apple is currently recommending that affected users set their device’s date back by one day. […]

‘Respring’ refers to when iPhone shows a black screen and loading indicator before taking you back to the Lock screen (not an actual reboot). It’s named after SpringBoard, the iOS system that manages the Home screen and applications.

So … what the hell is going on in Cupertino?


The Power of RAW on iPhone

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-01 03:21

Sebastiaan de With shared great insight on shooting in RAW mode with iPhone X on the Halide blog today — Halide being a really powerful camera app I highly recommend.

I have always found the task of shooting in RAW and subsequent editing a bit daunting. After reading Sebastiaan’s post, I feel more empowered than ever to give it a real go.

Sebastiaan:

I am the design half of the team that makes the iPhone app Halide, which is a camera app with manual controls and, most importantly, RAW capture.

RAW is a file format that holds an incredible amount of information. We’ll get into the details later, but first let’s show what you can do with it.

From Sebastiaan’s post. Left: a RAW image out of the iPhone X. Right: the image after editing.
From Sebastiaan’s post. Left: a RAW image out of the iPhone X. Right: the image after editing.

RAW affords you editing freedom. Absolute freedom to change the colors and white balance of a photo, or recover too-bright highlights and too-dark shadows.

However, as awesome as RAW is, it’s important to know RAW isn’t a magic “enhance” button. Some of our users sometimes reach out with confusion about their RAW images looking worse than a regular capture from the stock camera app.

Read his full post for a really accessible overview of how RAW files are put together, and what shooting in RAW really means, including important caveats.


Google Home can now handle two commands at once

Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-30 15:28

Taylor Martin for CNET:

While Routines are still nowhere to be found, you can issue up to two commands to Google Home at once. You can say something like, “OK, Google, turn on the TV and what’s the weather?” Your TV with Chromecast ($35.00 at B&H Photo-Video) will power on and Google Home will tell you the weather for your location.

This worked with almost all the commands we tested. Traffic, however, only seemed to work sometimes. Other times Google Home just ignored the traffic request and responded to the second command. This feature is also limited to a string of two commands. Three or more commands will not work.

This is exactly what I asked for of smart speakers/assistants as a whole in this poorly-worded post.

Among the other examples given, for me, this would be extremely helpful to control two lights at once that aren’t exclusively part of a scene.

Previously, Google addressed my other request for adaptive volume with its Night Mode feature that lowers volume during preset times.

Too bad I don’t have a Google Home. Amazon needs to add this to their Echo line and Apple should take note for Siri/HomePod.


Apple releases major security fix for macOS High Sierra

Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-29 19:15

Apple has released macOS High Sierra Security Update 2017-001 to address the embarrassing security hole discovered yesterday. Funnily referred to as #IAmRoot on Twitter, the exploit allowed anyone to obtain the highest level of access to your Mac by using the built-in root account without a password. Most vulnerable to physical access, others on Twitter discovered it allowed for remote exploitation as well.

If you’re running a Mac with High Sierra, update immiediately via the App Store.

Apple released the following statement:

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

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

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

This is an insanely-quick response from Apple, and that is fantastic. However, this never, ever should have happened to begin with. There’s no other word for it than ‘embarrassing’. An increasingly large amount of Apple’s value proposition is their stock as the privacy and security company. After a while, issues like these can begin to hurt their credibility.

I think it’s clear Apple really needs to institute a bug bounty program for Mac, like they have done for iOS. The Mac product line as a whole has been seen as neglected by pros over the past couple years, so huge missteps like this only add insult to injury. If Apple doesn’t want folks to think of Mac as the red-headed step-child, they need to start doing a much better job.