‘Apple Sent Two Men to My House; No, They Weren’t Assassins’ →

May 21, 2016 · 09:20

James Pinkstone:

Tom, along with his boss Ezra, had just spent most of Saturday at my dining room table with me, trying to recreate a disaster like we were Netflix green-lighting Fuller House. So far, no luck.

In the days leading up to our face-to-face encounter, they’d earned more of my trust when they acknowledged that A), they’d read the phone transcripts, and although they maintained that she was mistaken, they did not dispute my account of what Amber had told me, and B), they, too, were convinced this was not user error. Before allowing them into my home, though, I’d laid out some conditions. Their research would be strictly limited to Apple Music, iTunes, and my iTunes library, and I would always be in the room to watch them work. Any information gleaned would be used solely for iTunes and Apple Music troubleshooting. If I had a document on my desktop called “Zapruder Film Unedited,” for example, they would still leave it alone. They agreed, both on the phone and in person, so we began.

I never linked to James’ original post about how ‘Apple stole his music‘, because quite frankly, I believed it to be user error. In the meantime my friend also told me about his problems — he also lost some of his files — and Apple showed up on Pinkstone’s doorstep to try to diagnose the issue.

What other company would do that? No, seriously. Is there any other tech company that would go to such lengths to figure out what’s wrong with their product?

How Frank Underwood Helped Monument Valley →

May 21, 2016 · 09:14

Andrew Webster:

When the third season of House of Cards debuted on February 27th last year, it included a curious cameo: in one episode, newly-inaugurated president Frank Underwood was relaxing with an iPad, playing the gorgeous game Monument Valley. Two days later, the game had its second biggest money-making day to date, raking in close to $70,000 over the span of 24 hours, thanks to being featured in the show.

This is one of my favourite mobile games and one of the best I’ve ever played. The whole team truly deserves their success.

Making Listening to Podcasts Simple →

May 20, 2016 · 08:01

John Paul Titlow:

At launch, RadioPublic is focused on building a mobile app for listening to podcasts and radio-like audio content on smartphones with as little effort as possible. Unlike existing podcast players such as Stitcher Radio and Overcast, which let users curate their own list of shows, RadioPublic’s apps will offer a laid-back, nearly effortless approach to listening in the hopes of injecting the simplicity of terrestrial radio into the podcasting space.

However much I despise proprietary platforms for open projects such as podcasts, they do have a point. While the barrier for entry to finding and listening to my favourite podcasts is not an issue — I like that I can configure my feed to my liking — a less adept person would probably not have a clue what they were doing at step one:

  • download Overcast
  • add podcasts or their RSS feeds
  • create a custom playlist

I love using Overcast because of its simplicity1, but it still isn’t easy enough for those of us who do not understand how the app or podcasts work. Ideally, ‘my mom’ should have to just muddle through installing the app and then hit play. The only in-between step that I would consider adding, would be selecting a category first — politics, tech, whatever. Overcast already has a few categories with recommended podcasts, so in theory Marco could make this work. I do worry however if and how he would handle shows in languages other than English.

  1. Although Voice Boost and Smart Speed are what actually convinced me.

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How Zach Grether Captured an Image of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Landing →

May 19, 2016 · 13:32

Zach Grether:

At 1:21am on May 6, 2016, SpaceX continued its run of aerospace brilliance with a night launch of its Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Japanese communication satellite payload to geostationary orbit. The most spectacular portion of this event was the first successful night landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage onboard their floating platform called “Of Course I Still Love You.” While this was not the first successful landing for SpaceX, it was the first one at sea at night and also one that they predicted to have a high probability of failure due to the dynamics involved with the much higher energy needed to send the satellite to a higher orbit than previous launches.

What does that have to do with me? Well, at the time, I was on Hunting Island in the southern portion of South Carolina doing what I love to do, shooting the Milky Way…. and I captured the moment!

I love a good story and this one is as good as they come – make sure to read it from beginning to end. And there’s a tutorial thrown in for those who want to learn a bit more about astrophotography.

Please check out Zach’s prints too — some wonderful images there.

Twitter to Stop Counting Photos and Links in 140-Character Limit →

May 17, 2016 · 08:29

Sarah Frier:

Twitter Inc. is making a major shift in how it counts characters in Tweets, giving users more freedom to compose longer messages.
The social media company will soon stop counting photos and links as part of its 140-character limit for messages, according to a person familiar with the matter. The change could happen in the next two weeks, said the person who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t yet public. Links currently take up 23 characters, even after Twitter automatically shortens them. The company declined to comment.

Twitter is so slow to innovate, and there are so many small things they could do to improve everyone’s time spent on there.

If the above comes to pass, only one question remains: will it also be included in the API for third-party clients?

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iOS 9.3.2 — IPSW Direct Download Links

May 16, 2016 · 19:45

Apple released a minor update to iOS 9 today, raising the version number to 9.3.2. Since this is a minor update, there are no new user-facing features apart from the ability to simultaneously enable Low Power mode and Night Shift.

Continue reading →

I Took the Week Off

May 13, 2016 · 22:54

My apologies for not posting anything for the past week, but I’ve been completely focused on another project. We recently launched iMag Weekly — a Polish weekly web publication, which we have high hopes for. Its launch was very well received by our readers, which eased our anxiety a bit, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

I should be back to posting regularly on Monday.

Misplaced iPad Takes Its Own Vacation →

May 13, 2016 · 22:48

Nick Wingfield for the New York Times:

Last month, Shelby Bonnie’s iPad vanished from his carry-on bag somewhere at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a red-eye flight from San Francisco. He figured he would never see it again.
But sometimes our devices aren’t ready to say goodbye.

The ending is priceless.

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The Nazi Underground; The Gold Train →

May 13, 2016 · 22:44

Jake Halpern for the New Yorker:

“There are so many tunnels, who knows what else is there,” Tomasz Jurek, one of Lower Silesia’s many treasure hunters, said. “It’s the tip of an underground city.”

Lower Silesia, in southwestern Poland, is a land of treasure hunters. Until the end of the Second World War, the region—covered by mountains and deep pine forests with towering, arrowlike trees—was part of Germany. In the early months of 1945, the German Army retreated, along with much of the civilian population. The advancing Red Army killed many of the Germans who remained. Nearly all those who survived were later evicted and forced to move west. By the end of 1947, almost two million Germans had been cleared out.

In order to fill the emptied landscape, the newly formed Polish government relocated hundreds of thousands of Poles from the east. The settlers arrived in vacant towns, walked into empty houses, and went to sleep in strangers’ beds. There was furniture in the houses, but usually the valuables were missing. The porcelain dishes, the silk dresses, the fur coats, the sewing machines, and the jewelry were gone, often hidden in the ground: buried in jars, chests, and even coffins. It was a hasty solution—a desperate effort to cache valuables as people were running for their lives. The owners of these possessions intended to return, but most didn’t. And so on steamy fall mornings, when the new arrivals dug in their gardens or tilled their fields, they unearthed small fortunes.

I grew up in Lower Silesia, so I might be a bit biased, but it’s one of the most beautiful parts of Poland, especially in the mountainous regions. I assume I know more about the history of this region than people from other parts of Poland, having actually visited them many times over the years, but Jake’s reporting is truly first-rate — he mentions events and secrets that I never heard of.

If there’s only one article you can read this week, make sure it’s this one.

Photo: Wojtek Pietrusiewicz (that’s me), shot with a Nikon D700 & Zeiss ZF 2/100 @ 1/400, f/8, ISO 200, 100mm.

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Forbes Wants Your Contacts if You Use an Adblocker →

May 4, 2016 · 00:46

Rob Leathern noticed an absurd contradiction in Forbes’ TOS:

So I’ve basically agreed now to not block their ads, after signing up for the express purpose of being able to see their content while blocking their ads.

Logical, indeed.

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Dear Forbes, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: ads are not the problem; your trackers are. And now, you want all my contacts? Thanks, but no. I will now go out of my way not to visit your site and waste my time staring at that obnoxious quote-of-the-day page.

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Intel Spent More Than $10 Billion to Catch Up in Mobile and Gave Up →

May 3, 2016 · 10:06

Ina Fried:

After missing the early days of the smartphone revolution, Intel spent in excess of $10 billion over the last three years in an effort to get a foothold in mobile devices.

Now, having gained little ground in phones and with the tablet market shrinking, Intel is essentially throwing in the towel. The company quietly confirmed last week that it has axed several chips from its roadmap, including all of the smartphone processors in its current plans.

They’re not doing very well with their PC chips either, considering how behind they are on their own roadmap.

Twitter Retires Magic Recs When Bots Are On The Rise →

May 2, 2016 · 22:16

Ingrid Lunden:

At a time when Twitter is looking for catchy things to capture more audience, it’s ironic that Magic Recs bot would stop working just as bots were starting to become a thing.

Doubly ironic is the fact that Magic Recs was a bot that actually worked when some have flopped. Like many others who followed it, I praised Magic Recs for being uncannily accurate in predicting interesting accounts to follow and tweets to watch. Twitter could have turned it into something that people could even pull for more Recs.

While push notifications may work out, the people using third-party Twitter clients will miss out on them. And I refuse to use the native client when it’s as bad as it is. Why not leave Magic Recs for hardcore users? While I don’t think much of the bots which seem to be popping up in many places recently, this was one that I really enjoyed.

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My Photography (6) — Balloon Festival, Bielawa, Poland, 2016

May 2, 2016 · 22:09

We drove down to Bielawa today, which is more or less south of Wrocław in Poland, for the Balloon Festival. I did not expect to get the shots that I did, despite the weather not playing nice. The sunset, some two hours after the above photo was taken, was close to perfect.

Shot with: DJI Phantom 4 @ f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 100.

Phil Schiller Has Some Fun on Twitter

April 30, 2016 · 10:43

My attention was brought to a few of Phil’s tweets, while catching up on my timeline. At first I just stared incredulously, and then it clicked.

Phil Schiller: 1. Twitter: 0.

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Leica Launches M-D (Typ 262) Digital Rangefinder Without LCD →

April 29, 2016 · 15:15

Damien Demolder:

German camera manufacturer Leica has announced a new M digital rangefinder that has no LCD panel. The Leica M-D (Typ 262) will be almost exactly the same as the existing M (Typ 262) but without a rear screen for reviewing images and working the menu. The company says it has produced a camera with only the ‘essentials of photography’, or ‘Das Wescentliche’, and that it will help photographers concentrate on the important elements of image making rather than getting distracted with the camera functions.

Beautifully minimalist, for which you have to pay more than for the model with the LCD. Insane? Perhaps, but it doesn’t matter if it grabs people’s hearts. It did mine.

Introducing CareKit →

April 28, 2016 · 23:59

Apple:

Care doesn’t only happen at the doctor’s office. That’s why Apple created CareKit. An open source framework, CareKit allows developers to build beautiful apps that leverage a variety of customizable modules. CareKit apps will let users regularly track care plans, monitor their progress, and share their insights with care teams. Since CareKit is open source, developers can build upon existing modules and contribute new code to help users world wide create a bigger—and better—picture of their health.

You can find CareKit on GitHub here and the CareKit blog over here.

Aeroplanes & German Nuclear Plant Infected With Viruses →

April 28, 2016 · 10:11

Christoph Steitz & Eric Auchard:

A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station’s operator said on Tuesday.

Lucky break. Otherwise we’d ‘just’ have a nuclear disaster on our hands.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for Finland-based F-Secure, said that infections of critical infrastructure were surprisingly common, but that they were generally not dangerous unless the plant had been targeted specifically.

I guess we’d find out if a particular plant had been targeted or not after the fact, and after a potential disaster. Seems like a good way to go about security. Right?

As an example, Hypponen said he had recently spoken to a European aircraft maker that said it cleans the cockpits of its planes every week of malware designed for Android phones. The malware spread to the planes only because factory employees were charging their phones with the USB port in the cockpit.

Seriously? How the fuck is this even possible? Fortunately…

Because the plane runs a different operating system, nothing would befall it.

Unless the malware was written to target that OS.

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App Store Deals — 28/04/2016

April 28, 2016 · 09:46

You might want to take a closer look at Air Display, Boxy and Star Wars…

Air Display 3 – iOS – Utilities – €14.99 > €9.99
Awesome Calendar – iOS – Productivity – €6.99 > €0.99
Boxy: email client for “Inbox by Gmail” – Mac – Productivity – €6.99 > €4.99
Disk Drill Media Recovery – Mac – Utilities – €39.99 > €0.99
Money Pro – Mac – Finance – €29.99 > €2.99
Progress to 100 – iOS – Games – €2.99 > €1.99
Star Knight – iOS – Games – €2.99 > €0.99
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – iOS – Games – €9.99 > €2.99

Logitech’s Smart Connector-Equipped Charging Dock for iPad Pro →

April 27, 2016 · 08:15

Chance Miller:

On the surface, the Base looks similar to various other charging docks we’ve seen over the years, but look closer and you’ll see Smart Connector prongs and a Lightning port on the back. This means that you can dock your iPad Pro to the Smart Connector and charge it just like you would when you dock an iPhone. And it’s really well thought out.

This looks great. Since it uses the iPad’s charger, I wonder if it can utilise the additional power of the 29 W USB-C brick through the Smart Connector, to improve charge times on the big iPad Pro.

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Apple Financial Results — FY Q2 2016 →

April 26, 2016 · 22:48

Apple PR:

Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2016 second quarter ended March 26, 2016. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 67 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 51.2 million iPhones (61.17 million in FY Q2 2015)
  • 10.3 million iPads (12.62 million in FY Q2 2015)
  • 4 million Macs (4.56 million in FY Q2 2015)

How Colour Managment Works on iOS 9.3 →

April 22, 2016 · 12:59

Brandon Chester:

With 9.3 iOS essentially has full support for ColorSync in the same way that OS X does. ColorSync has been Apple’s system for color management for many years now, and it works very well in applications that are built on top of Apple’s frameworks like Quartz, Core Animation, and the entirety of AppKit. It just so happens that basically every iOS application is built on these frameworks, and so the task of building system-wide color management in to iOS was seemingly not a difficult one.

Color management appears to be working quite fine across the entire system and within all apps. The interesting thing is, the sign that color management works is the fact that for almost all content there is absolutely no difference between the new iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2. This is expected, as almost all content on the device will target the sRGB gamut, and so if color management is working it should be mapped into the larger DCI-P3 gamut without issue.

Apple’s own applications interpret untagged content as sRGB, and also properly understand tagged images and videos and display them correctly. Safari also renders CSS colors correctly, which is something that can’t be said for any other browser that I’m aware of. The same is true of all third party apps that I’ve tried, including Dropbox, Google Drive, AVPlayerHD, Animuplyr, among many others. While I had worried that iOS’s lack of color management prior to 9.3 would lead to many problems with accurate images on the 9.7″ iPad Pro, Apple has handled the situation better than I ever expected.

The problem with colour management and gamuts is that many computers, tablets, and smartphones can barely display sRGB properly, which means that putting out images which will fit in DCI-P3 is pointless – 99.9% of the people viewing them will not see the correct image. Unless you’re just using the 9.7″ iPad Pro to display photos to family, clients, etc. This could be solved in a number of ways, but none of them are easy at this point in time, nor do I see them being implemented in the near future. We still have a long way to go unfortunately.

Brandon also details how True Tone works and how it affects colour accuracy — I have Night Shift turned off and I would turn True Tone off too (if my 12.9″ iPad Pro had it), perhaps apart from reading sessions.

China Shuts Down iBooks and iTunes Movies →

April 22, 2016 · 12:43

Paul Mozur & Jane Perlez:

Last week, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, just six months after they were started there. Initially, Apple apparently had the government’s approval to introduce the services. But then a regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, asserted its authority and demanded the closings, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.

I’m sensing, based on various tidbits of news, that Apple’s problems in China will get worse before they get better. Quite frankly, I’m surprised they allowed any ‘western’ content in the first place.

How iMessage Distributes Security to Block “Phantom Devices” →

April 22, 2016 · 12:39

Securosis:

Overall it’s a solid balance of convenience and security. Especially when you consider there are a billion Apple devices out there. iMessage doesn’t eliminate the need for true zero-knowledge messaging systems, but it is extremely secure, especially when you consider that it’s basically a transparent replacement for text messaging.

This is a good read if you’re interested in the security of iMessage. It’s basically very secure, but I’m sure Apple will continue improving their standards.

Apple to Skip iPhone 7S, Jump Straight to iPhone 8 →

April 22, 2016 · 12:35

Luke Dormehl:

Apple will drop its incremental “s” iPhone release next year in favor of jumping straight to the iPhone 8, claims Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz.
Moskowitz backs up previous suggestions that the iPhone 8, which will launch in 2017, will boast the biggest upgrade since 2014’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus — with OLED displays, no home button, and wireless charging, leading to what he calls a “mega cycle” upgrade.

As for this year’s iPhone 7? He’s not quite so optimistic.

I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with the previous rumours from Kuo, and quite frankly, I don’t believe either of them until we start seeing some solid leaks.

Apple Needs to Reorganise Its Services Division →

April 21, 2016 · 08:14

Ben Thompson:

Apple will not fix the services it already has, or deliver on the promise of the services its hardware might yet enable, unless a new kind of organization is built around these services that has a fundamentally different structure, different incentives, and different rhythms from Apple’s device teams. You don’t make great products because you want to make great products; you make great products by creating the conditions where great products can be produced.

While I use almost all of Apple’s services, and they work pretty well for me, there are areas, which Ben highlights, that need a lot of work. iMessage has huge potential, for example, but it’s currently SMS on steroids. Apple Pay still hasn’t rolled out to countries that actually have more than enough infrastructure to support it. Siri is so slow to get off the ground to new heights, that it’s no end. HomeKit seems to be basically dead. CarPlay is a terrible experience. And the App Stores need a lot of work, as does shaping the future of what they contain.

At this point in time, Apple still has time to make their services better, but will they do it before time runs out?