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Daring Fireball

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Daring Fireball T-Shirts and Hoodies

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-11 05:18, modified at 05:21

Thumbnail of a Daring Fireball logo hoodie.

Just like we did last year, we’ll take orders on these through the end of the week, and start shipping them out at the beginning of next week. These hoodies proved very popular last year, and feedback on them was really great. They’re surprisingly warm for how thin and light they are. In the winter I become that guy who sits around the house wearing his own logo’d hoodie.

Link: daringfireball.net/shirts


★ The Other Shoe Drops: Away Fires CEO Steph Korey After Months-Long Search for Her Replacement

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-10 03:10, modified on 2019-12-11 07:33

Charity L. Scott, reporting for The Wall Street Journal, “Online Luggage Startup Away Says CEO Is Stepping Down”:

Away, an online seller of luggage that investors valued at $1.4 billion earlier this year, said Chief Executive Steph Korey is stepping down.

Ms. Korey will become executive chairman of the New York City-based startup. Stuart Haselden, who is departing as chief operating officer at Lululemon Athletica Inc., will succeed her as CEO, according to the company. Away co-founder Jen Rubio will remain president and chief brand officer.

The news comes after an article in the Verge last week criticized Ms. Korey’s management style as harsh, citing several former employees unhappy with the work environment. Ms. Korey apologized in a statement on Twitter last week, saying she has worked with an executive coach to “improve as a leader.”

Away said the CEO search has been under way since this spring, and Mr. Haselden will take over Jan. 13. Lululemon announced his departure Monday.

[Disclosure: Away has sponsored 21 episodes of my podcast, The Talk Show, in the last three years, and they are on the schedule for an upcoming episode. The following is what I’d write if they never had and never would sponsor my show or website.]

It surely is not spin that Away’s board — led by Rubio, Korey’s fellow co-founder — had been searching to replace Korey for months. You can’t hire the COO of Lululemon in three days in light of a PR crisis.

So I think it’s pretty clear that The Verge inadvertently got played. They got fed the story and ran with it in a way that pinned all of the company’s purported cultural problems on Korey. All six quoted sources were anonymous former employees (and, coincidentally or not, women). There was a lot about that Verge story that struck me as weird. Why shouldn’t the CEO be furious that the company somehow sent customers suitcases that had been used in a beach photo shoot and were covered with sand and other debris?1 But one of the strangest things was that while it was ostensibly a story about the company, the actual story felt almost entirely like a hit on Korey, personally. No other executive’s Slack messages were quoted as evidence of the perceived cultural problems.2

So now the narrative is not “Away fires woman CEO and co-founder, replaces her with a man”. Instead, the narrative is “Away fires CEO who created ‘toxic culture’, brings in fresh leadership” — a narrative that wouldn’t be possible without The Verge’s story last Thursday. It also seems clear that Korey had no idea this was coming — her statement on Twitter responding to The Verge report sure doesn’t sound like the words of a woman who realizes her company board was on the cusp of replacing her after a months-long executive search.

It’s entirely possible that Korey really was responsible for a “toxic work culture”, and the truthful narrative really is “Away fires CEO who created ‘toxic culture’, brings in fresh leadership”. I’m just pointing out it beggars belief that it’s pure coincidence this story leaked to The Verge just before Away was set to fire Korey, such that when the company made the announcement the controversy was still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Update: Let me clarify my theory here. I doubt the Away board “planted” this story at The Verge. I’ve struck out the word “fed” in the phrase “got fed the story” above to make that clear, but I’m leaving it as struck-out text in fairness. I think The Verge’s sources for the story are actual disgruntled ex-Away employees, who really did believe that they should have been allowed to use their work-supplied Slack for inappropriate-for-work communication and who really do believe that calling it “unacceptable” when customers were shipped dented, dirty suitcases is “toxic”.

But if you take the perspective of a cutthroat startup board — and these are some mean people — it’s not outlandish to think these former employees could have been simply nudged to go to the press with their Steph Korey grievances, via a route untraceable back to the Away board. I doubt that. But I don’t rule it out. (One of the companies funding three of Away’s four rounds is Global Founders Capital, led by Oliver Samwer, who once closed an email to a company he invested in with “I am the most aggressive guy on internet [sic] on the planet. I will die to win and i [sic] expect the same from you!” Sounds to me like a guy who would maybe play some dirty pool.)

The Verge’s story was reported over weeks or months. (Months, I hear.) During their reporting they contacted Away for comment and response. Now-former CEO Steph Korey was even quoted in the story. What I think happened is that once Jen Rubio and the board — who were already plotting Korey’s ouster — became aware of the story, and the all-in-on-outrage-culture/startups-are-toxic angle it was taking, they simply let it happen without pushing back whatsoever. No vast conspiracy necessary — just let it happen. The most conspicuous thing between the publication of The Verge’s original story on Thursday and Monday night’s announcement that Korey had been replaced is that neither the company nor Rubio offered a single word of support for Korey. Not even something milquetoast or anodyne. Not a fucking word. She was hung out to dry.

The only response was Korey’s own statement, issued from her personal Twitter account, and again, it did not sound at all like the words of a CEO who knew she was “stepping down” or who had, as now claimed, personally been involved in the search for her successor. What they sound like are the words of a CEO who thought the company and its board had her back and had no idea they’d been plotting to oust her for months.


  1. Here’s the anecdote in question from The Verge:

    When the photo team took suitcases to a shoot in the Hamptons and brought them back banged up and covered in sand, an employee who’d started that week was blamed for the “unacceptable” error and called out publicly on Slack. (The bags had eventually made their way to customers, and executives were furious.) “It could’ve just been a co-worker pulling them aside and saying this isn’t cool,” Erica says. “It felt like they were publicly outing the situation so that everybody could follow along.”

    Wouldn’t the problem be if the CEO just shrugged something like that off? How does sending those obviously-used suitcases to customers even happen? They weren’t just dented, but dirty. If a waiter served a customer a half-eaten sandwich, I’d expect the manager to immediately berate him in front of the other staff in the kitchen — not take him aside and say “Hey, that isn’t cool.” ↩︎

  2. The Verge’s next-day follow-up also struck me as odd. Their headline and sub-head: “Here’s the Leaked Memo in Which Away Tells Employees Not to Fave the Verge’s Investigation: CEO Steph Korey Apologizes for Her Behavior — Just as Away Clamps Down on Employee Speech”. But read the memo. Away wasn’t “clamping down on employee speech” — they were dealing with a serious PR crisis. What company in the midst of a PR crisis would not tell employees not to talk about it? Well-run companies speak with one voice, whether in the midst of a crisis or not, but especially in the midst of a crisis. ↩︎︎


WSJ: ‘Elizabeth Warren Made About $2 Million for Legal Work Over Three Decades’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 23:11, modified on 2019-12-10 02:44

Am I reading this headline wrong? My take is that the emphasis is on “Elizabeth Warren Made $2 Million” — which to my ears implies an angle of “See, she’s made a lot of money too”. But $2 million really isn’t that much money. And in the world of corporate law, it seems only a pittance. Let’s round “three decades” to 30 years — that’s only $67,000 a year. If the WSJ ran a story on the 40-year career of, say, a public school teacher who averaged, say, $50,000 in salary over that span, I highly doubt they’d start with a headline like “Public School Teacher Earned $2 Million Over Four Decades”.

“Elizabeth Warren Averaged $67,000 Per Year in Legal Work Over Three Decades” gives the exact same story a very different slant.

Update: Holy hell The Washington Post is even worse than the Journal, running its story under the headline “Sen. Elizabeth Warren Earned Nearly $2 Million Consulting for Corporations and Financial Firms, Records Show” — with no timeline whatsoever for the period over which she earned the money, which clearly leads the reader to assume it was over a brief period of time before she became a senator. This framing is genuinely outrageous.

This whole thing where the news media is trying to gin up controversy over what is not a lot of money recalls Dr. Evil’s “One million dollars” blackmail threat. Except Dr. Evil was just a character in a silly comedy and Elizabeth Warren is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination whom her opponents are trying to stick with the tag that she’s a hypocrite. 2016’s endless “but her emails” bullshit proves that when the straight news media plays along with these narratives, they stick, with disastrous results.

Link: wsj.com/articles/elizabeth-warren-made-about-2-million-for…


The Information: ‘Apple’s Ad-Targeting Crackdown Shakes Up Ad Market’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 21:50

Tom Dotan, writing for the subscriber-only The Information:

Two years ago, Apple launched an aggressive battle against ads that track users across the web. Today executives in the online publishing and advertising industries say that effort has been stunningly effective — posing a problem for advertisers looking to reach affluent consumers.

Since Apple introduced what it calls its Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature in September 2017, and with subsequent updates last year, advertisers have largely lost the ability to target people on Safari based on their browsing habits with cookies, the most commonly used technology for tracking. One result: The cost of reaching Safari users has fallen over 60% in the past two years, according to data from ad tech firm Rubicon Project. Meanwhile ad prices on Google’s Chrome browser have risen slightly.

That reflects the fact that advertisers pay more money for ads that can be targeted at people with specific demographics and interests. “The allure of a Safari user in an auction has plummeted,” said Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett. “There’s no easy ability to ID a user.”

So: Intelligent Tracking Prevention is working.

Link: theinformation.com/articles/apples-ad-targeting-crackdown…


The Grouch

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 21:46

Indirectly, Caroll Spinney’s Oscar the Grouch played an obscure footnote role in Macintosh history, starring in Eric Shapiro’s unsanctioned, utterly-useless-yet-utterly-delightful The Grouch system extension for classic Mac OS. If anything, The Grouch was anti-productivity software, because it made emptying the Trash take longer, but we loved it nonetheless. Obviously, our affection for Spinney’s Oscar was at the heart of that. There was an entire genre of just-for-fun gag extensions for the old Mac OS, and to my mind, The Grouch was the king of them.

Link: youtube.com/watch?v=GE7EWDKVM1Y


Caroll Spinney, Puppeteer Who Gave Life to Big Bird of ‘Sesame Street’, Dies at 85

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 21:38

Emily Langer, writing for The Washington Post:

Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who gave life to Big Bird, the towering yellow avian of TV’s “Sesame Street” who accompanied generations of youngsters in the arduous, yet wondrous, work of growing up, died Dec. 8 at his home in Connecticut. He was 85 and died hours before “Sesame Street” received Kennedy Center Honors for achievement in the arts. […]

Mr. Spinney, who said he had been teased in childhood for his fascination with what his tormentors mocked as “dolls,” met Henson at a puppetry convention and first donned Big Bird’s 4,000 canary-yellow feathers for the show’s opening season. In thousands of episodes over nearly a half-century, he gave voice and motion to Big Bird and to Oscar the Grouch, the shaggy green trash can-dweller who showed children that they needed not always be happy and that it was okay to like things others didn’t — trash, for instance. […]

Spinney’s characters were a huge part of my childhood — and my son’s. That’s an amazing testament to Sesame Street’s timelessness and durability.

Link: washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/caroll-spinney…


Nike Swoosh to Appear on the Front of Every MLB Uniform in 2020

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 21:08

Craig Calcaterra, writing for NBC Sports:

We knew as of last January that this was coming — and the new uniform designs teams like the Padres, Brewers and Rangers have released in the past few weeks have shown it — but today the images were all released: all 30 teams will wear jerseys with the Nike Swoosh prominently placed on the front starting in the 2020 season. […]

They aren’t all that bothersome on most uniform styles, particularly the newer and busier ones. But to my eyes the Swoosh is a desecration of the more classic, cleaner uniforms like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Tigers as shown above. Yeah, that’s some traditionalism on my part talking — OK, a LOT of traditionalism on my part talking — but it does, objectively, throw off the balance that some of the better uniform designs have long had.

I’m of course most partial to the Yankees, but I’d say the swoosh is even more objectionably prominent on the Dodger and Tiger jerseys, because they’re so utterly plain. The Yankee pinstripes disguise it to some degree.

On the good news front, the old-is-new uniforms for the Brewers and Padres are both excellent. The Brewers have too many alternates — the pinstriped home alternates feel off-brand, and the alternate cap is just dumb-looking — but both of these uniforms are spot-on for the teams, both of which had gone way off track in recent decades. Kudos to the Padres for sticking with just one cap.

Link: mlb.nbcsports.com/2019/12/09/nike-swoosh-to-appear-on-the…


Beijing Orders State Offices to Replace Foreign PCs and Software

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 19:44, modified at 20:44

Yuan Yang and Nian Liu, reporting for The Financial Times from Beijing:

Beijing has ordered all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three years, in a potential blow to the likes of HP, Dell and Microsoft.

The directive is the first publicly known instruction with specific targets given to Chinese buyers to switch to domestic technology vendors, and echoes efforts by the Trump administration to curb the use of Chinese technology in the US and its allies.

I can’t decide if this is part of the Trump-initiated US-China trade war, or if this is just China being China and part of an initiative that would’ve happened regardless of who the current U.S. president was.

Also, I doubt Chinese government offices buy many Macs, but what about iPhones? This could be a bit of a blow to Apple as well.

Link: ft.com/content/b55fc6ee-1787-11ea-8d73-6303645ac406


[Sponsor] Doxie Mobile Scanners — Scan Smarter, Not Harder

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 22:42

Designed with all your paper in mind, Doxie quickly and reliably scans all your documents, receipts, and detailed photographs with ease.

Thanks to its small footprint, rechargeable battery, and expansive memory, Doxie consistently delivers high-resolution scans wherever you are — no computer required. Included smart macOS and iOS apps, then let you save, share, and send your paper to the cloud.

Doxie’s a must-have if you refuse to compromise on quality and want a straightforward way to finally go (and stay) paperless.

This week only, Doxie’s giving DF readers a super-secret 35% off. Enter Amazon promotion code FIREBALL at checkout on any of Doxie’s three great models: Doxie Go SE, Doxie Go SE + Wi-Fi, or Doxie Q.

Link: getdoxie.com/hello/daringfireball/?utm_source…


Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Orders Start Tuesday

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 03:09, modified at 03:13

No news on build-to-order pricing or when they’ll actually ship.

Link: techcrunch.com/2019/12/08/the-new-mac-pro-goes-up-for-order…


SignEasy

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-07 20:50

My thanks to SignEasy for sponsoring this week at DF. With over 6 million downloads and users in 180 countries, SignEasy is the gold standard for signing and sending documents from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. It is a simple and easy-to-use, yet powerful tool that will help you be more productive, save time and money, and run your business more efficiently.

The latest version of SignEasy was built specifically for iOS 13 and iPadOS, including many compatible features like Dark Mode, built-in document scanning, and multi-window support. SignEasy’s blend of simplicity and power caught the attention of Apple who recently named it one of its certified mobility partners.

Link: signeasy.com/daring-fireball?utm_source=partner&utm_medium…


Ultra Wideband Technology: Apple’s Explanation for Why Newer iPhones Appear to Collect Location Data, Even When Location Services Are Disabled

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-07 20:28, modified at 22:35

Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch:

“Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations.”

“The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data,” the spokesperson said.

That seems to back up what experts have discerned so far. Will Strafach, chief executive at Guardian Firewall and iOS security expert, said in a tweet that his analysis showed there was “no evidence” that any location data is sent to a remote server.

Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:

This makes complete sense to me and appears to be nothing more than a mistake in not providing a toggle specifically for UWB. It seems that a risk of marketing a company as uniquely privacy-friendly is that any slip-up is magnified a hundredfold and treated as evidence that every tech company is basically the same.

It is totally fair to hold Apple to a higher standard on privacy than other companies. But Heer is exactly right: when they do make a mistake, it’s going to be magnified. The mistake here wasn’t that location data was leaked — including to Apple’s own servers, apparently. The mistake was not making it clear in Settings that UWB requires location data for regulatory compliance. Most people don’t even know what UWB is at this point.

It reminds me of the controversy over battery throttling two years ago. iOS was trying to work in the user’s interest, to make a device with an older battery as useful as it could be. But it wasn’t explained or exposed as an option in Settings, and people jumped to the conclusion that it was a nefarious scheme to get people to buy new iPhones.

And let’s not forget that Settings is already a big app, even with Apple’s generally conservative approach to adding new preferences.

Link: techcrunch.com/2019/12/05/apple-ultra-wideband-newer…


‘The Smartest Guys in the Clubhouse’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-07 19:04, modified at 20:21

David Roth, writing at The New Republic:

It is not evidence of anything in particular, let alone anything sinister, that a World Series champion would hit better than a team that finished in third place. Players improve, and lineups change, and both of those things happened here. But it’s no more surprising to learn, given the dramatic shift in the numbers, that it later turned out that the Astros were cheating: videotaping the opposing catchers’ pitch signals and then using a trash can near the team dugout to pound out, semaphore-style, a message to the hitter about the pitch about to arrive. Given the combination of reverence and fear with which the rest of the sport regarded Luhnow and his McKinsey-fied team of weaponized quants — which was unforgivably dickish but undeniably ahead of the curve, already deftly working angles and analyzing data that other teams couldn’t even see yet — the overt oafishness of the Astros’ 2017 cheating scheme came as no small shock.

I haven’t written about the Astros’ cheating scheme — a story that was broken last month by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic — but this piece by Roth is a good place to start. The striking thing is, as Roth so aptly phrases it, the “overt oafishness” of it. There’s a brazenness to it. You could hear their signals on the TV telecasts. We just don’t look for corruption right out in the open. We expect corruption and cheating to be concealed and hidden.

This Astros story is just sports. But it’s hard not to note the obvious parallels to the Trump administration’s corruption. The president literally asked Russia for help hacking his opponent’s email. Right on stage. We joke about having made Jimmy Carter sell his family peanut farm in Georgia but Trump owns a hotel right down the street from the White House.

Link: newrepublic.com/article/155863/houston-astros-cheaters-2017…


‘A Letter From Larry and Sergey’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-04 19:33, modified at 20:02

Larry Page and Sergey Brin:

With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure. We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President. Going forward, Sundar will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet. He will be the executive responsible and accountable for leading Google, and managing Alphabet’s investment in our portfolio of Other Bets. We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term, and will remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders. In addition, we plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about!

Nice friendly exclamation mark!

This whole “Alphabet” thing is a joke. I still don’t get what they’re even trying for with it. The company is Google and we all know it. The subsidiary owns the parent and everyone knows it. No one is fooled by this. Nothing has changed regarding the goofy super-class shares that Page and Brin hold that give them complete control of the company. Google is a privately-held company that trades as a publicly-held one.

Here’s the thing that’s always rubbed me the wrong way about Google. They’re insulting. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates — I completely believe they’re all geniuses. But they never seem(ed) condescending. Tim Cook and Satya Nadella aren’t founders but they’re both great examples of what a CEO should be: smart, honest, respectful.

Brin and Page are almost certainly smarter than you and me. But they’re not as much smarter as they think they are. Read this whole announcement through the filter of “they think we’re dumb” and it makes a lot more sense. And if they were as smart as they think they are, they’d therefore be smart enough to recognize how tone-deaf this plays.

Link: blog.google/inside-google/alphabet/letter-from-larry-and…


‘Snowbrawl’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-04 19:22, modified at 19:29

Kottke:

Snowbrawl is a fun short film of a children’s snowball fight shot as if it were a John Wick or Mission Impossible action sequence. David Leitch, the uncredited co-director of John Wick and director of Deadpool 2, shot the whole thing for Apple on an iPhone 11 Pro.

It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate just how amazing this is. Your cell phone camera can shoot video that meets the standards of an Apple commercial. It’s truly astonishing.

Link: kottke.org/19/12/snowbrawl


The New York City Subway Map as You’ve Never Seen It Before

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-02 18:54, modified at 20:48

Good design is always about sweating the details. Loved this tidbit on the contribution of designer Nobuyuki Siraisi:

He rode the length of every train line with his eyes closed, feeling the curve of each track and then drawing the path he perceived in his drawings.

Link: nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/02/nyregion/nyc-subway-map…


[Sponsor] SignEasy

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-02 21:51, modified on 2019-12-07 20:45

With over 6 million downloads and users in 180 countries, SignEasy is the gold standard for signing and sending documents from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. It is a simple and easy-to-use, yet powerful tool that will help you be more productive, save time and money, and run your business more efficiently.

The latest version of SignEasy was built specifically for iOS 13 and iPadOS, including many compatible features like Dark Mode, built-in document scanning, and multi-window support. SignEasy’s blend of simplicity and power caught the attention of Apple who recently named it one of its certified mobility partners.

Link: signeasy.com/daring-fireball?utm_source=partner&utm_medium…


Basecamp, Before + After

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-01 22:09

My thanks to Basecamp for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball. Interesting numbers from a survey of Basecamp customers, many of whom switched from platforms like Slack, Trello, Asana, and Jira:

9 out of 10 Basecamp customers report having a better handle on their business, 8 out of 10 say their teams are more self-sufficient, and 6 out of 10 have fewer weekly meetings. No more using multiple tools just to run one project. Less stress, fewer meetings, getting more done.

I’ve been a fan and paying customer of Basecamp for 15 years. Here’s a piece I wrote back in 2009 that remains just as apt today:

They didn’t start with what customers wanted, or with what existing project management software looked like, or by trying to guess what some group of faceless others would want. They designed and built what they themselves wanted, under the assumption that there were some number of other people who would want the same thing.

What drives some people nuts about [Basecamp] is that their products are not for everyone. But they’ll be the first ones to agree with that. Rather than trying to build things that work OK for everyone, they’re building things that work really well for some people. And how often does building something “for everyone” actually work out, anyway?

Check out Basecamp today and see what working better looks like.

Link: basecamp.com/before-and-after?source=dfpost


Intel Says It Sold Its Modem Business to Apple at a ‘Multi-Billion Dollar Loss’ Because Qualcomm ‘Strangled Competition’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-01 16:34, modified at 18:25

Stephen Nellis, reporting for Reuters:

Intel made the claims in a brief filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Qualcomm is seeking to overturn a sweeping antitrust decision against it after losing a lawsuit by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Intel, whose executives testified at the trial, argued on Friday that the ruling should stand. Appeal proceedings are expected to begin in January.

One reason Apple might have been able to buy Intel’s cellular modem team at a discount: who else was even bidding?

The final paragraph of this report is a bit odd, though:

Qualcomm has denied the FTC’s accusations, and other parts of the U.S. government urged the appeals court to pause enforcement of the FTC ruling against it. In July, the Pentagon and the Department of Energy said Qualcomm was a “trusted” supplier of 5G technology and would be “impossible to replace” in the short term if put out of business.

The ludicrous implication here is that the Pentagon and DOE think if Koh’s ruling stands, Qualcomm will be forced out of the 5G business. That seems utterly nuts.

Link: reuters.com/article/qualcomm-ftc-intel/intel-says-qualcomm…


BBC News: ‘Apple Changes Crimea Map to Meet Russian Demands’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-29 17:07, modified at 17:20

BBC News:

Apple has complied with Russian demands to show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory on its apps.

Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation. The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.

Garry Kasparov:

Apple changing its maps inside Russia to make Crimea part of Russia is a huge scandal. Regionalization of facts is unacceptable appeasement.

“Regionalization of facts” indeed. Apple can argue honestly that they’re complying with Russian law by showing Crimea as part of Russia to Russian users. But complying with this implicitly means capitulating to Russian propaganda. It is not a matter of debate whether Russia annexed Crimea illegally. It is a fact.

Link: bbc.com/news/technology-50573069


Ink: A Pure-Swift Markdown Parser by John Sundell

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-28 14:47, modified at 15:55

John Sundell:

Welcome to Ink, a fast and flexible Markdown parser written in Swift. It can be used to convert Markdown-formatted strings into HTML, and also supports metadata parsing, as well as powerful customization options for fine-grained post-processing. It was built with a focus on Swift-based web development and other HTML-centered workflows.

Ink is used to render all articles on swiftbysundell.com.

This sort of performance is harder to achieve than you’d think:

Ink was designed to be as fast and efficient as possible, to enable hundreds of full-length Markdown articles to be parsed in a matter of seconds, while still offering a fully customizable API as well. Two key characteristics make this possible:

  1. Ink aims to get as close to O(N) complexity as possible, by minimizing the amount of times it needs to read the Markdown strings that are passed to it, and by optimizing its HTML rendering to be completely linear. While true O(N) complexity is impossible to achieve when it comes to Markdown parsing, because of its very flexible syntax, the goal is to come as close to that target as possible.
  2. A high degree of memory efficiency is achieved thanks to Swift’s powerful String API, which Ink makes full use of — by using string indexes, ranges and substrings, rather than performing unnecessary string copying between its various operations.

There’s some common syntax that isn’t supported (yet?), but this is already a great Markdown implementation.

Link: github.com/JohnSundell/Ink/blob/master/README.md


The Talk Show: ‘Talking About Crimes’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-28 04:01, modified at 04:02

For your holiday listening enjoyment: very special guest Matthew Yglesias joins the show to talk about Tim Cook cozying up to Trump for tariff relief and more.

Sponsored by:

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Link: daringfireball.net/thetalkshow/2019/11/27/ep-270


Google Faceplants Again on Stadia

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-25 17:28

Sean Hollister, writing for The Verge:

On June 6, Google opened up preorders for the $130 “Founder’s Edition” of its Stadia cloud gaming service, promising those buyers would be the first to experience the future of gaming — and reserve a unique username. Though Stadia went live on November 19th, many buyers are still reporting they haven’t received the most crucial piece of the entire Stadia package: the invite email that opens the door to actually let them in.

This seems like a small thing, but the diehard gamers — the ones who preorder to be a “founder” and secure their user name — take this stuff seriously. It’s just a stupid misstep, but it’s more proof Google just doesn’t get serious gaming.

Apple did such a good job positioning Apple Arcade as a casual gaming service. Arcade under-promised and over-delivered, which is what every service should aim for.

Link: theverge.com/2019/11/19/20973139/google-stadia-launch-codes…


1Password

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-23 00:34

My thanks to 1Password for sponsoring this week at Daring Fireball. 1Password is a powerful password manager trusted by the world’s leading companies.

1Password keeps your business safe online by securing passwords and other important information. Fill passwords and credit card details with a single click — they sync automatically between your devices and can be shared immediately with select colleagues. Once 1Password is part of your employees’ workflow, good security habits become second nature.

1Password Business gives you the power to create security policies, reduce threats, and monitor your team’s access. When everyone uses 1Password, your risk goes down and productivity goes up.

It’s a great app and a great service that you can trust with your most valuable information.

Link: 1password.com/


MacOS Catalina Boot Volume Layout

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-23 00:27, modified at 02:48

Howard Oakley, writing at The Eclectic Light Company:

When you upgrade to macOS 10.15 Catalina, your boot volume will effectively be split into two. Assuming it’s the standard internal storage, your existing boot volume will be renamed to Macintosh HD — Data, and a new read-only system volume created and given the name Macintosh HD. However, when your Mac starts up in Catalina, you won’t see the Data volume, as it’s hidden inside the System volume, in what Apple refers to as a Volume Group.

Although new to macOS, this scheme is already in use in iOS, and specifies the read-only system volume as having the role APFS_VOL_ROLE_SYSTEM, and the writeable user volume has the role APFS_VOL_ROLE_DATA. In that, the volume with the System role is normally mounted at the root /, and that containing both user and mutable system data is then mounted in /System/Volumes and accessed from there using several firmlinks.

Nice explanation of a complex change in 10.15 Catalina.

For the most part, in the Mac UI (like the Finder), it all just works. You open /Applications and you’ll see all your applications. But when you poke around in Terminal you have to know what’s going on or it won’t make sense. ls in /Applications will show only the contents of the writeable Applications folder; ls in /System/Applications will show you only the system applications on the read-only boot volume.

Link: eclecticlight.co/2019/10/08/macos-catalina-boot-volume…


Gurman: Apple Has Changed Development Process for iOS 14 in Wake of iOS 13’s Buggy Launch

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-22 23:56, modified on 2019-11-23 02:52

Nice scoop from Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:*

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system. […]

The new development process will help early internal iOS versions to be more usable, or “livable,” in Apple parlance. Prior to iOS 14’s development, some teams would add features every day that weren’t fully tested, while other teams would contribute changes weekly. “Daily builds were like a recipe with lots of cooks adding ingredients,” a person with knowledge of the process said.

* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October 2018 — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.

Link: bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-21/apple-ios-14…


Tesla Cybertruck

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-22 23:45

I don’t love the look of it, but I don’t hate it, either. And the more I look at it the more it grows on me. It has a DeLorean vibe that goes beyond the stainless steel frame. But mainly I’m just delighted that Tesla has finally unveiled a car that doesn’t look like a regular car. The Cybertruck is different. That’s exciting.

Unfortunate demo failure with the glass, but Musk recovered well. If handled well, demo failures are endearing.

Link: tesla.com/cybertruck


Cook: ‘China Really Hasn’t Pressured Us’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-21 22:40, modified at 23:05

ABC News:

Cook said he isn’t concerned over Apple’s relationship with China. “China really hasn’t pressured us, and so I don’t envision that,” he added.

If China hasn’t pressured Apple, why was the Taiwanese flag emoji removed from iOS devices in Hong Kong?

It’s far from the biggest issue surrounding China. I get that. It’s just a flag emoji, and we’re talking about a regime that has put over a million people into concentration camps. But it is bullshit. Under the one-country-two-systems arrangement China itself agreed to regarding Hong Kong, there is nothing illegal about the Taiwanese flag.

It’s flat-out wrong that Apple removed the Taiwanese flag emoji in Hong Kong. But if they did so at the behest of China at least we’d have a reason why. If China hasn’t pressured Apple on this point, small though it may be, why in the world did Apple remove the flag?

It reeks of cowardice.

Link: abcnews.go.com/Business/tim-cook-talks-vision-apple-breaks…


★ Tim Cook Appears Alongside Trump in Re-Election Campaign Ad Shot in Mac Pro Plant in Austin

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-21 05:57, modified at 06:18

Donald Trump, tweeting a re-election video shot during his tour of Apple’s Mac Pro assembly plant today:

Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing [sic] plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers! [sic]

I’ve been on board with Cook’s stance on engaging Trump. Participating in Trump’s technology council does not imply support for Trump. Engaging Trump personally, in private phone calls and dinners, does not imply support. But appearing alongside Trump at an Apple facility in a staged photo-op is implicit support for Trump and his re-election.

This wasn’t a promotion for the Mac Pro or its assembly plant. It was a promotion for Trump. This video makes it look like Trump’s trade policies have been good for Apple and that Tim Cook supports Trump. Both of those things are false. Even Trump’s predictable claim that this is a new facility is false — Apple, in what at the time was a high-profile shift, has been manufacturing Mac Pros at the same facility since 2013. Apple isn’t bringing Mac Pro assembly back to the U.S. because of Trump’s trade policies; Apple is keeping Mac Pro production here solely because Trump granted Apple an exemption to his tariffs — tariffs that he himself clearly does not understand.

But Cook went into this knowing that this is how Trump would play it — a big pile of nonsensical horseshit all the way down.

This is how Apple chose to unveil the packaging for the Mac Pro — in a poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House, scored with bombastic music that sounds like it came from an SNL parody of a Michael Bay film. Think about how it feels to work on that team at Apple.

Jack Nicas, in an acerbic news analysis piece at The New York Times:

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump called Mr. Cook a “very special person” because of his ability to create jobs. He turned to Mr. Cook and said, “What would you say about our economy compared to everybody else?”

Mr. Cook replied, “I think we have the strongest economy in the world.”

“Strongest in the world,” Mr. Trump said.

The president then took questions on the impeachment inquiry and launched into a tirade against “the fake press.” Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.

“Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.”

A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.


★ L’Affaire Vaperware

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-21 04:37, modified on 2019-11-22 17:40

The Macalope is not a fan of Apple’s ban on vaping-related apps from the App Store:

If you’re not into vaping, it’s pretty easy to cheer this action. For starters, some vaping companies are terrible people. Second, some kinds of vaping are simply not good for you, even when they don’t contain cyanide. So who could be against this move?

Well, vapers, certainly. There are actually very good reasons why some people vape, medical ones. For now those who have installed the apps can continue to use them, but in the long term developers have no way to deliver updates that could provide bug fixes or firmware updates.

It’s worth pointing out that the canisters that did contain cyanide were counterfeit. The Macalope just checked his local liquor store and we haven’t banned alcohol sales because prison wine blinded some people. He also checked the App Store and we haven’t banned mixology apps, either. But one of the apps Apple banned actually checked canisters to see if they were counterfeit.

Neither is medical marijuana user Jason Perlow:

But there are also more sophisticated devices that have USB and even Bluetooth interfaces to enable the patient to control heat settings, display lights, and update the firmware. The Bluetooth devices are accompanied by apps on the iOS and Android mobile platforms which can allow the patient to measure and monitor their usage, and, as is the case with PAX to identify the medication loaded into the device, and to understand its contents, such as the overall cannabinoid profile, the terpene mix, and other components. It also allows a user to validate the authenticity of the medication as well as testing and batch results.

Neither is Ben Thompson:

Those apps — and by extension, device functionality — are no longer available to iPhone users — you can’t get this level of functionality in a browser — not because regulators ruled them illegal, or because Congress passed a law, but because a group of technology executives said so. And, what they said held sway because the App Store is integrated with the iPhone: Apple has a monopoly on what apps can or cannot be installed.

To keep it all here on one page, my take from Monday:

I think I’m OK with this overall, but it’s a close call. The stuff about selling cartridges, and sharing news — it’s fine for that stuff to be out of the App Store because you can get it on the web. But Bluetooth stuff where apps were used as the interface for controlling hardware — web apps can’t do that (nor should they be able to). There is no alternative to a native app, and native apps are only available on the App Store. This would be an easy call to make (and would have been made from the get-go by Apple) if vaping were illegal. But it’s not illegal.

Booze Is Not a Good Comparison

A few readers, objecting to my “I think I’m OK with this overall” stance, posed the same question The Macalope did: why not alcohol-related apps, too? Wouldn’t I — who partakes of an occasional libation — staunchly object to a ban on, say, cocktail recipe apps? Well, no. If Apple were to issue a blanket ban on alcohol-related apps, I wouldn’t object so much as I would worry that Apple had lost its mind. Vaping and alcohol are both legal in the U.S., but they are not in the same ballpark.

There is a stigma — growing rapidly — attached to vaping that is not attached to alcohol. Vaping is controversial in ways that drinking is not. Is that fair? No. Apple cited 42 recent vaping-related deaths in the U.S. in its decision to ban vaping apps from the App Store. The National Institute of Health estimates that 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually — which, if true, means over 240 per day. There’s a good chance someone in the U.S. will die from an alcohol-related cause by the time you finish reading this article. Is it fair that we as a society have accepted that, but consider 42 vaping-relating deaths a crisis? No.

This isn’t about vaping being bad and alcohol being good. It’s about vaping being controversial and alcohol being firmly socially accepted. President Trump has not called for a ban on fruit-flavored vodka, but he did call for a ban on fruit-flavored vape cartridges. Now, in the past week, Trump has walked away from that proposed ban, because, it turns out, his proposed ban was politically risky. My point here isn’t whether vape users skew toward being Trump supporters — I have no idea, and wouldn’t be surprised if vaping demographics showed no tilt toward the left or right, per se, but merely toward being young — but simply to point out that vaping is so controversial as to have risen to the level of presidential politics.

If alcohol were as contentious an issue in the U.S. today as it was 100 years ago, I would expect Apple to ban alcohol-related apps long before Prohibition became the law of the land. But it’s not contentious today.

And, speaking of alcohol-related apps, in the early days of the App Store there were apps that flagged the locations of DUI checkpoints. These apps were not illegal — in some cases the data for the apps came from the police departments themselves. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in May 2011, Apple VP Bud Tribble cited that fact as one reason why Apple allowed the apps in the App Store.

Three weeks later, Apple updated its App Store guidelines to ban such apps, and removed them from the store. They have not returned.

Like vaping apps, those DUI apps were perfectly legal. Also like vaping, they were controversial. The analogy is not perfect. Having executives drawn into testimony before Congress — as with the DUI checkpoint apps — is no small matter. There are no Senate hearings on the vaping epidemic — yet. Look at those graphs in the PEW Research demographic study of vapers I linked to above — particularly this one. The rate at which vaping is growing among high school and college students is striking. In 2016 13 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the previous 30 days; two years later it was double that figure. If this continues apace, it seems inevitable vaping will soon reach the level of Congressional investigations.

I would wager that Apple changed its mind back in 2011 on DUI checkpoint apps not because of political pressure — remember, they defended them in a Senate hearing — but because they decided it was simply the right thing to do. I would bet that’s a factor with the vaping ban.

Online gambling is legal in several U.S. states today. It’s perfectly legal in numerous countries around the word. There have never been any apps in the App Store that let you gamble with real money.1 Most pornography is legal — never been in the App Store, never will be. All of it: controversial. And, to varying extents: seedy.

Apple certainly isn’t being cowardly here. If anything, the quick political backlash to Trump’s proposed outlawing of flavored vape cartridges shows that taking a stand against vaping is the riskier route.

The Better Comparison: Tobacco and ‘Weed’ Smoking

Search the App Store for “tobacco” or “cigarettes” and most of what you’ll find are apps intended to help people quit smoking. But there are some eyebrow-raising exceptions.

Tobacco Inc. (Cigarette Inc.)” is an iOS game with the following premise:

You have been a president of tobacco company. By developing new varieties and diverse additives and by making cigarette having high-addictiveness, grow the company as the best company in the world. Achieve 99.9% of global smoking rate and 99.9% of market share.

The future of cigarette is up to you.

It’s not clear if that 99.9% figure includes children. (Also, consider one big “[sic]” applied to that whole description.)

A few others: “itSmoke” (a cigarette smoking simulator — with decent graphics!), “iRoll Up the Rolling and Smoking Simulator Game” (a “game” in which you roll and “spark up” your own “cigarettes”), and an entire sub-genre of games that show up when you search for “weed baron”.

As it stands today, tobacco and marijuana are OK in the App Store if you smoke them but banned if you vape them. That distinction seems impossible to defend, other than by noting that vaping is a hot topic in the news, and cigarettes and weed baroning are not.

The Case Against the Vaperware Ban

All that said, my personal take remains unchanged: I think I’m OK with Apple’s decision, but it’s a close call. I’m not even saying I agree with it. If the decision were mine to make, I’d have left the vape apps in the store — for now at least. But I think it’s an edge case that makes for a close call, so I’m OK with it.

This seems to be problematic for some readers to come to grips with — that I can accept a decision I disagree with. To me, it’s like watching an instant replay in baseball. The umpire calls the baserunner out. One replay camera angle makes the runner look safe; a different angle makes the runner look out. Neither angle is conclusive. Maybe I feel the angle that makes the runner look safe is more compelling. But the umps review the play and the call stands: out. I’m OK with that, because it was close. Usually, instant replays in baseball are conclusive. Usually, with App Store rejections and policy changes, the correct course of action for Apple is clear.

My strong preference for the App Store, so long as it remains the only way to install apps as a consumer2 (that is to say, non-developer, non-enterprise users), is for Apple to be guided by two factors: the law, and compliance with App Store technical policies.

The legal part is obvious. Apple has no choice but to comply with the laws around the world in every country in which the App Store operates. On the matter of technical polices, I mean things like forbidding the use of private APIs, abusing system resources, violating the privacy or security of users, etc. Rules that should apply equally to all apps from all third-party developers.

Does the app adhere to the law? Does the app adhere to Apple’s rules? If the answer is yes to both questions then the app should be in the App Store.

But there are always going to be exceptions. Pornography, gambling, and hate speech have been exceptions from the beginning.

The X-factor with Apple’s vaperware ban is Bluetooth — using apps to control hardware devices. All sorts of things that are banned from the App Store are adequately, if not equally, accessible via the web. The HKMaps.live app is a great example of that: the hkmaps.live website offers almost the exact same features and experience as the native app Apple yanked from the App Store. (To be clear, I oppose Apple’s decision in that case — I simply feel better about it knowing that iPhone-owning Hongkongers still have access to the same information.)

Hardware is different. Web apps can’t access Bluetooth. Without a native app there is no workaround. From Pax’s well-argued response to Apple’s ban:

At PAX, we are committed to delivering technology that enables adults to make educated, informed choices. Millions of consumers in 34 legal states, including a large number of medical patients and veterans, rely on the PAX Mobile App to control their session size, set the correct temperature and have lockout abilities to prevent children from accessing our devices. Last Tuesday, we announced our new PodID feature, which — in light of the current threats posed by the illicit market — provides consumers with unprecedented access to information about what’s in their pods, including strain information, cannabinoid and terpene profiles, access to state-regulated test results and more.

There are exceptions to almost every rule, and if Apple is considering exceptions to its vaping ban — and they should be — they should start with companies like Pax, whose apps cannot be replicated on the web and whose products can and often are used in legal, medically-sanctioned ways.


  1. Unless it’s on Wall Street, where it’s called “investing” and is A-OK. ↩︎

  2. Which of course raises the obvious and long-debated solution to any dispute regarding Apple’s unconstrained control over what is allowed in the App Store: allowing apps to be sideloaded. Allow iOS to work like MacOS — where only App Store apps are allowed by default but users have the option to also install apps from identified developers. That would be a solution to the problem of Apple’s capriciousness and/or moral rectitude — but the full ramifications of allowing sideloading on iOS aren’t simple at all. It’s a complicated situation that would require a complicated explication, and to pretend that it’s only about Apple protecting its 15-30 percent revenue cut — although undeniably that’s a huge factor — is disingenuous. ↩︎︎


Huawei’s Upcoming Android Tablet Looks Like an iPad Pro With a Hole-Punch Display

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-20 18:56

What is it like to go though life without an ounce of shame or pride or respect for the creativity and hard work of others?

Link: androidcentral.com/huawei-upcoming-android-tablet-ipad-pro…


President Trump’s Handwritten Notes at Today’s Chopper Talk, Presumably on His Way to Austin to Tour Apple’s Mac Pro Factory

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-20 18:55

These are not the notes of a man who’s losing his mind (and eyesight). No siree Bob. Everything is A-OK with this guy.

Link: twitter.com/GettyImagesNews/status/1197202729334128642?s=20


Amazon Will Pay $0 in Taxes on $11,000,000,000 in Profit for 2018

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-20 17:54, modified at 18:17

Kristin Myers, reporting for Yahoo Finance:

According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Amazon will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row.

Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Amazon’s federal tax responsibility is 21% (down from 35% in previous years). But with the help of tax breaks, according to corporate filings, Amazon won’t be paying a dime to Uncle Sam despite posting more than $11.2 billion in profits in 2018.

That’s fucked up. Not Amazon’s fault, though — it’s our corrupt tax laws.

Link: finance.yahoo.com/news/amazon-taxes-zero-180337770.html


Apple Has Locked Guilherme Rambo Out of His Developer Account Since September

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-20 16:14, modified at 17:24

Guilherme Rambo:

Determined to get someone on the phone, I used my employer’s developer account to be able to reach the phone support page, where I entered my number. Developer support then called me, and I gave my previous case number to a nice person on the other end of the phone, who explained that my case had been escalated to a supervisor, who then escalated it to their supervisor, and that I would hear back from them “soon”. This was in mid September. In early October, I called again and was told I would receive an e-mail explaining the situation, I haven’t.

More recently, I tried calling again and got to talk with a supervisor, who said I would be getting an e-mail with instructions to get my access restored. During the call, they told me my developer account is currently “inactive”. I followed up over e-mail a couple of days later and got a generic response that “the internal team is still investigating the issue” and thanking me for my patience.

Like I mentioned before, the problem began in August. So far I’ve tried every possible private communication channel before deciding to make this story public. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t get any e-mail or call from Apple warning about any sort of action being taken against my developer account. Apple always says that “running to the press doesn’t help”. Unfortunately, they haven’t responded in any way, even when I tried reaching out through internal contacts that I have. So the only option I have left now is to “run to the press”.

It’s bad enough that his developer account has been disabled for nearly three months. It’s downright Kafka-esque that he hasn’t been told why and can’t get an answer from Apple.

Pure speculation on my part, but unsaid in Rambo’s write-up of this story is that he’s not just any random developer. Rambo is extraordinarily talented at what I would describe as digital spelunking — he explores the internals of beta OS releases and pokes at beta APIs and he finds things that weren’t supposed to have been exposed. And when he does, he publishes his findings. It would be quite a coincidence if that’s not the conflict at the center of his account having been disabled — that someone at Apple got pissed off and impetuously ordered Rambo’s account disabled, and now they don’t want to explain it.

Or, you know, maybe it’s just a simple mix-up with Rambo’s billing information. Could have happened to anyone sort of thing. Right?

Link: rambo.codes/personal/2019/11/20/apple-has-locked-me-out-of…


Trump to Visit Apple’s Mac Pro Plant in Austin Tomorrow

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 23:31

CNBC:

The White House confirmed on Sunday that President Trump will tour Apple’s manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.

This ought to be good.

Link: cnbc.com/2019/11/17/trump-to-visit-apples-manufacturing…


Android Camera Bug Allowed Attackers to Access Camera and Microphone Surreptitiously, Without Permission

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 22:29

Checkmarx:

After a detailed analysis of the Google Camera app, our team found that by manipulating specific actions and intents, an attacker can control the app to take photos and/or record videos through a rogue application that has no permissions to do so. Additionally, we found that certain attack scenarios enable malicious actors to circumvent various storage permission policies, giving them access to stored videos and photos, as well as GPS metadata embedded in photos, to locate the user by taking a photo or video and parsing the proper EXIF data. This same technique also applied to Samsung’s Camera app.

In doing so, our researchers determined a way to enable a rogue application to force the camera apps to take photos and record video, even if the phone is locked or the screen is turned off. Our researchers could do the same even when a user was is in the middle of a voice call.

Fixed in software updates from Google and Samsung before Checkmarx published this report, but it’s impossible to say if it had been exploited previously. An exploit like this would have been of keen interest to government spook agencies looking for ways to target individuals.

Also, as Dan Goodin reports for Ars Technica, Google has no idea how many Android phones out there remain completely vulnerable to this exploit.

Link: checkmarx.com/blog/how-attackers-could-hijack-your-android…


Dolby Cinema Exclusive Poster for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 22:13, modified at 22:14

Now this is how you design a movie poster. Yeah, yeah, yeah — there need to be posters featuring the stars of the movie, too. But as a simple teaser, this poster is magnificent, with a style paying perfect homage to Ralph McQuarrie’s intricate concept art for the original trilogy. This poster works as well in 2019 as it would have in 1977. Bravo.

(Via Matthew Panzarino — the replies to his tweet have links to higher-resolution versions.)

Link: twitter.com/starwars/status/1196820441928814593


The Talk Show: ‘Maximally Thin’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 17:45, modified at 19:06

Very special guest Casey Johnston joins the show to talk about the butterfly MacBook keyboard saga and the just-released 16-inch MacBook Pro, with its all new scissor-switch keyboard design.

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Link: daringfireball.net/thetalkshow/2019/11/19/ep-269


Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 17:42

Matt Egan, reporting for CNN Business:

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. […]

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. […] Cement, for example, accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Sounds like a fantastic breakthrough.

Link: cnn.com/2019/11/19/business/heliogen-solar-energy-bill…


‘Meth: We’re On It’

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-19 16:51, modified at 18:36

South Dakota’s new meth awareness campaign was all over Twitter last night and all over the news this morning because of its attention-demanding slogan: “Meth: We’re On It”. My knee-jerk reaction was the same as many others who see this as an outrageously egregious mistake: How could they have missed the double entendre in this slogan?

But give it a second thought. Of course they knew. The whole point is the double entendre, and the attention they knew it would draw. Just look at the domain name they chose. They are in no way using humor to belittle South Dakotans addicted to methamphetamine — they are using humor to burst through the apathy around the issue. A campaign with the same budget and an anodyne slogan like “Just Say No” or “We’re Here to Help” would have gotten zero attention inside South Dakota, let alone nationwide. But here we are, one day after the campaign launched, and South Dakota’s meth problem is at the top of the news nationwide. That’s not good advertising; that’s great advertising.

Erika Hall nails it:

“I lost me to meth.” made everyone laugh and look away.

“Meth. We’re on it.” is a fantastic double entendre that gets everyone to laugh and look again.

Starting with a self-aware joke is so much better than all of the sanctimonious anti-drug campaigns that end up as jokes.

Humorless dullards complaining about the half-million-dollar budget being a complete waste of money are missing the point. Not only is this not a waste of money, it might be the most bang for the buck for any state-sponsored ad campaign in history.

Another tell: the graphic design of the campaign is stellar. Good typography, great logo, great photography.

Link: onmeth.com/


Apple Is Removing All Vaping Apps From Its App Store

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-18 17:47

Ina Fried and Mike Allen, reporting for Axios:

What’s happening: The company has never allowed the sale of vape cartridges directly from apps. But there were apps that let people control the temperature and lighting of their vape pens, and others provided vaping-related news, social networks and games.

Apple in a statement to Axios: “We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We’re constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users’ health and well-being. Recently, experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic.”

I think I’m OK with this overall, but it’s a close call. The stuff about selling cartridges, and sharing news — it’s fine for that stuff to be out of the App Store because you can get it on the web. But Bluetooth stuff where apps were used as the interface for controlling hardware — web apps can’t do that (nor should they be able to). There is no alternative to a native app, and native apps are only available on the App Store. This would be an easy call to make (and would have been made from the get-go by Apple) if vaping were illegal. But it’s not illegal.

Link: axios.com/exclusive-apple-to-remove-vaping-apps-from-store…


Kolide

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-16 22:12

My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring last week at DF. Kolide is a new Slack app that messages employees when their Mac, Windows, or Linux device is not compliant with security best-practices or policy.

With this app, Kolide will notify users or groups when a device is out of compliance along with clear instructions about what is wrong, and step by step instructions to remediate the issue themselves. They can even confirm in real-time that they resolved the problem with an interactive button inside the Slack message!

Unlike most endpoint security solutions, Kolide was designed with user privacy in mind. Your users will know what data is collected about their device, who can see that data, and can even view the full source code of the agent that is run on the device.

Kolide is already used by hundreds of fast growing companies who want to level-up their device security without locking down their devices. Try Kolide’s new product for free for 30 days for your entire fleet.

Link: kolide.com/?utm_source=df&utm_medium=talkshow&utm_campaign…


1Password Takes $200M Accel Investment

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-16 00:12, modified at 00:17

Good roundup of links and commentary by the inimitable Michael Tsai. The 1Password founders seem confident that they can expand rapidly into the enterprise world without losing the soul that has made their indie consumer app so beloved (and trusted). Most companies that have tried this, however, have failed. (Dropbox is the one that pops to mind first.)

Link: mjtsai.com/blog/2019/11/15/1password-takes-accel-investment…


Designer AirPods Cases

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-16 00:02, modified at 00:59

Kaitlin Serio, writing for PurseBlog:

If you’re one of the many who go sans a long, dangly wire and you love designer goods then we’ve got you covered. Unsurprisingly, designers like Burberry, Bottega Veneta and Dior are adding AirPod cases to their lines of tech accessories. Louis Vuitton has also tapped into this trend, though the Mini Trunk AirPod Case is not yet available online for sale.

AirPods seems downright cheap when you’re putting them in a $560 case. I’m curious how many of these will fit a sidewise AirPods Pro case.

Link: purseblog.com/accessories/airpods-are-the-latest-way-to-don…


Google Stadia Launch Seems a Little Rocky

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-14 19:14, modified on 2019-11-15 23:44

Only 12 games for now, and they’re all old titles. And in this Twitter thread, there’s a link to a Reddit AMA where someone from the Stadia team was “offering to hand-deliver kits in the Bay Area to make up for the shipping confusion.” All sorts of missing features and confusion about which devices work. Sounds like how you’d think Apple TV games would’ve rolled out, but instead, Apple Arcade rolled out perfectly.

Link: androidauthority.com/google-stadia-games-list-995367/


★ 16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-13 13:40, modified on 2019-11-20 18:42

If You Try Sometimes, You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need

Apple today released its much-rumored new 16-inch MacBook Pro.

It is full of good news.

Yesterday, Apple held a series of roundtable briefings for the media in New York. There was an on-the-record introduction followed by an off-the-record series of demos.1 The introduction was led by MacBook Pro product manager Shruti Haldea, along with senior director of Mac product marketing Tom Boger and Phil Schiller. Attending media received loaner units to review. Let’s not even pretend that a few hours is enough time for a proper review, but it’s more than enough time to establish some strong broad impressions. Here’s what you need to know, in what I think is the order of importance.

The Keyboard

We got it all: a return of scissor key mechanisms in lieu of butterfly switches, a return of the inverted-T arrow key arrangement, and a hardware Escape key. Apple stated explicitly that their inspiration for this keyboard is the Magic Keyboard that ships with iMacs. At a glance, it looks very similar to the butterfly-switch keyboards on the previous 15-inch MacBook Pros. But don’t let that fool you — it feels completely different. There’s a full 1mm of key travel; the butterfly keyboards only have 0.5mm. This is a very good compromise on key travel, balancing the superior feel and accuracy of more travel with the goal of keeping the overall device thin. (The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is, in fact, a little thicker than the previous 15-inch models overall.) Calling it the “Magic Keyboard” threads the impossible marketing needle they needed to thread: it concedes everything while confessing nothing. Apple has always had a great keyboard that could fit in a MacBook — it just hasn’t been in a MacBook the last three years.

There’s also more space between keys — about 0.5mm. This difference is much more noticeable by feel than by sight. Making it easier to feel the gaps between keys really does make a difference. Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, all 16-inch models come with the Touch Bar. But even there, there’s a slight improvement: it’s been nudged further above the top row of keys, to help avoid accidental touches. No haptic feedback or any other functional changes to the Touch Bar, though.

It’s hard not to speculate that all of these changes are, to some degree, a de-Jony-Ive-ification of the keyboard. For all we on the outside know, this exact same keyboard might have shipped today even if Jony Ive were still at Apple.2 I’m not sure I know anyone, though, who would disagree that over the last 5-6 years, Apple’s balance of how things work versus how things look has veered problematically toward making things look better — hardware and software — at the expense of how they function.

Allow me to fixate on one particular detail: the arrow keys. The only reason to switch from the classic upside-down T arrangement to full-size left and right arrow keys is that it makes the keyboard look better. With the upside-down T arrangement, the gaps above the left and right arrow look a little funny, in the abstract. But those gaps serve a huge functional purpose — they make it so much easier to put your fingers on those keys without looking at the keyboard. The gaps give you something to feel for. Having used recent MacBook family keyboards for months at a time over the past few years, the arrow key arrangement has been my biggest annoyance by far. More than the low-travel keys, more than the missing hardware Escape button, more than narrow gaps between keys. I just could never get used to not having those gaps in the arrow key layout. I resorted to putting small strips of gaffer tape on the lower half of the left and right keys to have something to feel for.

What Apple emphasized yesterday in its presentation is not that the butterfly-switch keyboards are problematic or unpopular. They can’t do that — they still include them on every MacBook other than this new 16-inch model. And even if they do eventually switch the whole lineup to this new keyboard — and I think they will, but of course, when asked about that, they had no comment on any future products — it’s not Apple’s style to throw one of their old products under the proverbial bus. What Apple emphasized is simply that they listened to the complaints from professional MacBook users. They recognized how important the Escape key is to developers — they even mentioned Vim by name during a developer tool demo. And they emphasized that they studied what makes for a good keyboard. What reduces mistakes, what increases efficiency. And they didn’t throw away the good parts of the butterfly keyboard — including excellent backlighting and especially the increased stability, where keys go down flat even when pressed off-center. The keys on this keyboard don’t wobble like the keys on pre-2016 MacBook Pro keyboards do.

Typing is very quiet on the new keyboard, and the sound it does make is satisfying. Less click-ity, more chunk-ity.

In short, Apple did not simply go back to the old style keyboards. It’s a new design, with the best attributes of the old 2015 keyboards and the recent butterfly-switch keyboards.

Lastly, Apple seems very confident that this new keyboard design is durable and reliable. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is not covered by Apple’s keyboard service program, because they apparently don’t need to be.

I expected Apple to do this — to correct the mistakes of the previous keyboard. But I feared that they wouldn’t, out of stubborn pride or just plain bad taste in keyboard design. It is a bit frustrating that it took them three years to do it, but they did it. This is what their modern MacBook keyboards should have been like all along.

Audio

A keyboard reboot we all saw coming. Here’s one I did not: the new 16-inch MacBook Pro has radically improved built-in speakers. This is the audio equivalent of going from chunky pixels to retina displays. It’s that big a difference.

It’s not simply about being louder, although they are louder at maximum volume. They just sound impossibly better. They don’t merely sound like good laptop speakers — they sound like good dedicated portable speakers, period. In a small room, you can credibly use the 16-inch MacBook Pro to play music as though it’s an entertainment speaker system. And at maximum volume they really are a lot louder — without the sort of distortion we’ve all come to expect from laptop speakers at high volume.

Apple’s demos pitted the new MacBook Pro against high-end models from Dell, Razer, and (I think) HP. It was an embarrassing comparison. I of course can see why Apple’s own demo compared the new MacBook Pro against laptops from competitors, but the difference is just as stark when compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2018.

In addition to sounding holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-these-are-laptop-speakers better, the new speakers also vibrate less when the volume is high. Other laptop speakers, including Apple’s, pump audio through the keyboard. You can feel the whole machine vibrate with your fingers on the keys. Not so much with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, even with the volume pumped all the way. Apple credits this to force-canceling woofers. Speaker drivers are paired back-to-back, emitting sound both up and down, which cancels out the physical force that creates vibrations and distorted sound. They provide some real bass.

The amazing acoustic engineering that led to the HomePod and AirPods Pro is now starting to pay dividends in every product Apple makes with speakers. iPhone and iPad speakers have gotten really good too, but with those products, there’s been a steady improvement year after year. I can’t recall one single iPhone or iPad where the difference in sound quality over the previous generation was this significant.

Really, I don’t think there’s anything I can write here that will convince you how good these speakers sound. However good you think I’m saying they sound, they sound way better than that.

There’s more! Audio input is improved as well. The 16-inch MacBook Pro has a new 3-microphone array that Apple describes as “studio quality”. They claim you can credibly use it to record a podcast — a bold claim. The new three-microphone array certainly sounds noticeably better than the old built-in microphone. Here are some samples I recorded last night, at the desk in my basement where I usually record my podcast.

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro:

The new 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro:

My iPhone 11 Pro:

Shure Beta 87A microphone connected to an Onyx Blackjack XLR interface — the setup I use for my show:

Would I recommend the new built-in MacBook Pro microphone for recording a podcast? No. But would I be willing to use it for my own show in a pinch? Yes. And it should be a great improvement to audio for teleconferencing and FaceTime.

The New Display

The new 16-inch display has a native resolution of 3072 × 1920 pixels, with a density of 226 pixels per inch. The old 15-inch retina display was 2880 × 1800 pixels, with a density of 220 pixels per inch. Apple didn’t just use the same number of pixels and make the pixels bigger — they actually made the pixels slightly smaller and added more of them to make a bigger display. Brightness and color gamut are unchanged. No rounded corners (like on the iPad Pro and iPhone X/XS/11) — the display is still a good old-fashioned rectangle with pure corners.

Computery Stuff

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the new “big” MacBook Pro — it replaces the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro in the lineup at the same prices: $2400 for a 6-core base model and $2800 for the 8-core base model.

The Intel chips are the same as the ones available on the May 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro. So it goes, until Apple switches to its own chips for Macs — these are still the best laptop chips Intel makes. It’s a bit unusual, to say the least, that a major update to the flagship MacBook uses the same CPUs as the generation it’s replacing.

But there are performance improvements. An all-new thermal system means the chips can run at peak performance longer. Graphics are faster, with the debut of AMD’s Radeon Pro 5000M series GPUs. The base models come with 16 GB of faster DDR4 RAM, and can now be configured with up to 64 GB. Apple also now offers up to 8 TB of SSD storage, which they believe to be the first 8 TB SSD on the market.

The port situation is unchanged: four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, two on each side, and a headphone jack.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro does have a slightly larger footprint than the old 15-inch models. It’s slightly heavier too (4.3 vs. 4.02 pounds) and as mentioned before, it’s slightly thicker (1.62 vs. 1.55 cm). But in hand and in use, it effectively feels the same size as the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Conclusion

It feels a bit silly to be excited about a classic arrow key layout, a hardware Escape key, and key switches that function reliably and feel good when you type with them, but that’s where we are. The risk of being a Mac user is that we’re captive to a single company’s whims.

No one would ever suggest that the steering wheel for a car be designed by people who don’t drive. But yet somehow the entire Macintosh world has spent the last three years dealing with or avoiding keyboards that were seemingly designed by people who don’t type.3 The whole saga of the butterfly keyboards — their unreliable switches, poor typing feel, and anti-functional layout — betrays a certain arrogance. The more powerful an organization — a corporation, a nation, a sports team, whatever — the more at risk that organization is to hubris. It’s power that allows one to act on hubris.

We shouldn’t be celebrating the return of longstanding features we never should have lost in the first place. But Apple’s willingness to revisit these decisions — their explicit acknowledgment that, yes, keyboards are meant to be typed upon, not gazed upon — is, if not cause for a party, at the very least cause for a jubilant toast.

This is a MacBook you can once again argue is the best laptop hardware money can buy.


  1. The demos all included the new Mac Pro too, which they announced will be shipping in “December”. No additional information on Mac Pro pricing until it ships, alas. ↩︎

  2. Actually, Ive is still listed on Apple’s leadership page as Chief Design Officer. ↩︎︎

  3. One could argue too, that in addition to keyboards designed by people who don’t type, modern MacBooks offer ports selected by people who never connect peripherals to their computers. But while USB-C is clearly taking over slower than Apple expected, it is taking over. Apple still thinks it will be proven right on going all-in on USB-C for MacBook ports. ↩︎︎


★ Getting Started With Apple TV+ Is Easy and Obvious and Only the Very Last Step, Which Isn’t Related to the Apple TV+ Signup Process in Particular, Made Me Want to Throw My iPhone Against a Wall

Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-01 22:44, modified on 2019-11-09 23:50

I’ve been curious ever since the “first year free with the purchase of a new Apple device” deal was announced how exactly it was going to work. For me, it was seamless. I went to the TV app on my iPhone (which is, unfortunately, running iOS 13.2 — not sure if that matters), and when I tapped on “The Morning Show”, it recognized that I had purchased a new iPhone and qualified for the year-long free subscription.

It was a simple four-tap process to sign up — fast, easy, and obvious. Here’s a little diagram I made illustrating the four steps.

A series of 4 screenshots illustrating the Apple TV+ signup process.

The fourth step is so super obvious that, rather than direct your attention to the button where you agree to the Apple Pay confirmation, I pointed instead to a layout bug that has plagued me for at least three or four years with this Apple Pay confirmation sheet. To wit, my iTunes Apple ID email address gets mis-wrapped as “myaddress@daringfireball.ne” + “t”. This annoys me, tremendously, every time I see it. It’s as though every single time I confirm an Apple Pay purchase with my phone, Apple throws a little bit of sand into my eyes. It’d be bad enough if the email address were broken between the “daringfireball” and the “.net”. A long enough email address has to break somewhere. But to just break at the “t” — a one-character widow that doesn’t even vaguely fall at a natural break — is a violation of every known typographic norm for splitting words that don’t fit. And just look at it — clearly there’s enough room for the “t” there. It should fit, which makes it all the more maddening.

The other cool thing about Apple TV+ is that you can watch it using the tv.apple.com domain from any device with a supported browser. I wasn’t expecting that, but should have, given that Apple Music became web-enabled a few weeks ago. Nice work.


★ AirPods Pro First Impressions

Permalink - Posted on 2019-10-30 04:59, modified at 15:52

Apple invited a few dozen media folks to New York today for a briefing and early access to the new AirPods Pro. My initial impression: I like them.

I left for home around 2:30 in the afternoon, and wore the AirPods Pro for the next three hours: on the subway in Manhattan, waiting (briefly, mercifully) in the cacophonous Penn Station, on the train ride home to Philadelphia, walking home through Center City Philadelphia, and then in my house. The subway, a train ride, and busy city streets are pretty good tests for noise cancellation.

Noise cancellation worked really well for me. I own a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise canceling wireless headphones, but almost exclusively wear them only on airplanes and trains. Wearing noise-canceling earbuds on the subway and walking through the city is going to take some getting used to. It’s so good you really do lose sense of your surrounding aural environment.

I was a dummy and didn’t take my Bose headphones on my trip today, so I can’t say how they compare side-by-side on the train, but there’s no question how AirPods Pro compare to regular AirPods. The difference is like night and day. Amtrak trains are pretty noisy — especially at what we in the U.S. so adorably consider “high speeds” — but with AirPods Pro the clackety-clack rumble was effectively blocked out.

The “Transparency” mode is interesting and a little mind-bending. It really does make it possible to conduct a conversation while still enjoying the benefits of noise cancellation. Because the silicone tips seal against your inner ear, when you turn AirPods Pro noise cancellation completely off, you really can’t hear much around you. They’re like earplugs. Transparency lets you hear parts of the world around you. One obvious use case for this: jogging or running and maybe just plain walking on streets where you want to hear the sounds of traffic.

My corner store has a noisy refrigeration unit. With AirPods Pro on — playing nothing — I couldn’t hear it at all. I couldn’t tell that my dishwasher was running even though I was sitting right across from it in my kitchen. As someone who doesn’t generally write while listening to music, I’m likely to use AirPods Pro, playing nothing, just to tune out the world around me in a noisy space.

The force sensor — the flat section on the earbuds stem that faces forward when in your ear — is effectively a button. But it’s not a button. It doesn’t actually move, and it doesn’t provide haptic feedback. But it acts like a button and — most importantly — sounds like a button. When you press it, the AirPod Pro plays a click. I use the singular AirPod there because the click only plays in the bud whose force sensor you pressed. The effect is uncannily like clicking a real button. In a similar way to how force touch trackpads on modern MacBooks and Touch ID iPhone home buttons feel like they truly click, the AirPods Pro force sensors feel like actual clicking buttons. They actually have more of a premium clicky feel than the truly clicking buttons on Apple’s wired EarPods, even though they don’t actually click. It’s uncanny, and Apple at its best.

Another nice Apple-at-its-best touch: in Control Center on iOS, you can long-press the volume control while wearing AirPods Pro to get a nice little three-way selector to choose between noise cancellation, off, and transparency. The selection indicator animates nicely, the sounds are delightful (although you can’t hear them in the movie linked above), and you can change the setting both by tapping another option or by dragging the selection indicator. It’s a simple little interaction done exquisitely well.

Force sensor actions:

  • Single-click: play/pause
  • Double-click: next track
  • Triple-click: previous track

By default, press-and-hold toggles between regular noise cancellation and transparency modes. That means, by default, the only way to invoke Siri is through the “Hey Siri” verbal command. But if you want to invoke Siri through a long-press, you can change that in the Bluetooth section of Settings on your iPhone or iPad. And, you can change it per-ear — so you can have your left AirPod Pro toggle transparency and the right one invoke Siri.

Also in the Bluetooth settings is the Ear Tip Fit Test. It’s very easy. Put the AirPods Pro in your ears, and start the test. It plays a song for about five seconds and decides whether you have a good fit with the current size tips. There’s nothing “smart” about the silicone tips themselves — the AirPods Pro don’t “know” which size tips you’re currently wearing. The Fit Test just tells you if the current ones in your ear are a good fit. For me, the default medium tips feel best and the Ear Tip Fit Test consistently agrees. For my son, the medium tips felt uncomfortable, and the Fit Test agreed they weren’t a good fit. For him, the small tips felt better and the Fit Test agreed. According to Apple, many people have differently-shaped ears and might need a different tip size for each ear, and if that’s the case the Fit Test will suggest it.

Swapping the tips is easy, but it takes a bit more pull than I expected to pop them off. Don’t be afraid — the tips seem rugged. And replacement tips from Apple will cost only $4 — truly cheap.

The AirPods Pro case is about 15% larger by volume than the regular AirPods case. That’s unfortunate, but it’s not noticeable in a regular pants pocket, and it still fits in the fifth pocket of a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.

Battery life, so far, is exactly in line with Apple’s stated specs. My review unit started at 75% (both the buds and the case). After three straight hours of use, the buds were down to about 10%. So if three hours of use consumed two-thirds of the battery, a full charge should last about 4.5 hours — which is exactly Apple’s claim.

Comfort-wise, my ears felt fine after those three consecutive hours of use. It’s a very different feeling compared to regular AirPods, but I like it. I’ve never had a problem with regular AirPods falling out of my ears, but AirPods Pro feel way more secure. Without question, how they feel is subjective — so the good news is you can request a try-on in any Apple Store.