Apple Cancels AirPower →

March 29, 2019 · 22:24

Matthew Panzarino, for TechCrunch:

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today.

Not that I was interested, but… damn!


Quick Thoughts on AirPods 2

March 28, 2019 · 09:45

I have used my first generation AirPods almost daily for the past two years. I started having issues with the right AirPod a few months ago, so I sent them in to get them looked at. They, surprisingly, replaced both AirPods (I got the old case back since it was fine) because Apple confirmed the issues that I had described. Quite frankly, going without AirPods for 5 days wasn’t easy — they’re easily the best product that Apple has created recently.

I expected AirPods 2 to get a 30% price increase and there being just one model available. Ideally, Apple would have introduced the second generation model with the charging case at the same price, but that’s just not how the world works. Instead, we got new AirPods with the old case for the same price and the option to upgrade to the Qi-enabled case for an extra 25%. This is better than nothing and honestly, you don’t actually need the wireless charging case.

There are rumours of AirPods with ANC. I will wait for them but I really hope they’re not going to charge even more for those.

Anyway, if you haven’t yet used AirPods (and they fit your ears), make sure to get a new pair. They really are extraordinary.


Quick Thoughts on the iPad Mini 5 and 10.5-inch iPad Air

March 28, 2019 · 09:29

I really thought the iPad Mini was dead but when the rumours started coming in about a newer model, I kept my fingers crossed for Apple adopting the Liquid Retina display from the new iPad Pros, along with a similarly designed case. I had two Minis in my iPad history and I loved them both. They were most excellent for thumb-typing and fantastic reading tablets, especially for RSS, the web, Twitter, and even ebooks. The screen was a bit small for comic books and magazines but I blame my ageing eyes on that. While a new Mini is always welcome — it really is a great little tablet — things have changed in the last few years. I really expect more from the “most innovative” company in the world, than just a speed bump, a slightly better screen, and the same 7-year-old design.

The “new” 10.5-inch iPad Air is really just a 10.5-inch iPad Pro without ProMotion and the quad-speaker system. While most people won’t notice the loss of the former, they really could have retained the latter, since a lot of people like to use iPads for watching video. The good news is that the price is down slightly.


Quick Thoughts on the New iMac (Early 2019)

March 28, 2019 · 09:14

Apple finally updated the iMac with new CPUs and GPUs last week and while not much has changed in the design of this particular Mac — same design, same Bluetooth, similar configs, etc. — a speed bump is always welcome. Unfortunately, some upgrade pricing is still as insanely absurd as ever and the base models still offer spinning disk drives:

  • The base models should all have SSDs.
  • The 8 GB → 16 GB upgrade costs $200. You can buy an 8 GB module for around $40-50 and a 16 GB module to around $90, which means Apple is charging 3-4 times more.
  • The 32 GB RAM upgrade is $600. A 32 GB set of two 16 GB DDR modules is around $180-190.
  • The 64 GB RAM upgrade is $1000 while a similar set can range from $200-430, depending on the vendor.
  • SSD upgrade pricing is 2-3 times higher than current prices for high-quality NVMe SSDs.
  • Since the design hasn’t been changed, I’m assuming that dust will still accumulate on the back of the screen over time.

I’m glad that the iMac has been updated but I still cannot comprehend why they aren’t getting more flack for their absurd upgrade pricing. The i9-9900 configuration should make a nice hackintosh config though, which I can fix in minutes or hours should anything go wrong, instead of sending it in to Apple and waiting 5-7 days. This route also allows me to use much beefier GPUs. I just wish Apple and NVIDIA stopped bickering — MacOS really could use GTX and RTX support.


Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm →

March 27, 2019 · 21:21

JoannaStern,forTheWallStreetJournal:

Nop, I havn’t fogottn how to wit. No did my dito go on vacation.

You s, to sha th pain of using an Appl laptop kyboad that’s faild aft fou months, I could only think of on ida: tak all th bokn ltts out of my column. Thn I alizd thatwould mak th whol thing unadabl. So to…

MySpacebarstoppedworkingtheotherday.


Valve’s New ‘Steam Link Anywhere’ Service Streams PC Games to Mobile Devices, Excluding Apple’s →

March 18, 2019 · 09:35

Mitchel Broussard, for MacRumors:

Valve today announced an expansion of its game-streaming app Steam Link, now named Steam Link Anywhere (via The Verge).

The original Steam Link app let users stream PC games on Steam to a mobile device within their home, but Steam Link Anywhere lets users stream games from their PC to any compatible device with internet service, excluding Apple devices.

Perhaps Apple has a good reason for blocking Steam Link Anywhere, but we’re the ones paying the price. I would also like to know what that reason is.


100 Years of Bauhaus →

March 14, 2019 · 10:46

The Bauhaus was a lively school of ideas and a field for experimenting in the free and applied arts, design, architecture and educational methods. Here we present the phases the Bauhaus went through, the places where it based its activities, its teaching, the people behind it and their works.


iOS 12.2 ECG Changes →

March 13, 2019 · 15:10

Guilherme Rambo, for 9to5Mac:

Up until now, Apple Watch Series 4 users who bought their Apple Watch in the US were able to use the ECG feature just fine, provided that they completed the onboarding step on their iPhone first. In this onboarding, the user has to confirm their date of birth and also see some instructions about how ECG works.

A change to this onboarding process suggests that Apple is going to start taking more aggressive measures to prevent usage of the feature in other territories. In iOS 12.2, a new phrase has been added to the bottom of the screen, which says that “During setup, your location will be used to make sure this feature is available in your region.”. Trying to perform the setup on an iPhone without a SIM installed gave the error “Unable to confirm your location. Make sure your iPhone is not in airplane mode and has a working SIM card to proceed”.

Now that I’ve gotten used to having the ECG feature on my US Apple Watch in Europe, I really hope they don’t block it.


Reeder 4 Beta for Mac Is Here →

March 13, 2019 · 10:21

While I really like using Unread for more casual reading, nothing lets me get through my RSS queue quicker than Reeder for iOS and Mac. I love this app and I’m happy to see that a new version is coming. Silvio Rizzi mentions that the iOS version is almost ready and having spent the morning with the Mac version, it appears this will be a nice update. Since Reeder 3 debuted in 2015, Silvio hasn’t been charging for updates, so I’ll gladly pay for the new version. You can find a list of some of Reeder 4’s new features on his site.


It’s Show Time — Apple’s Special Event Will Be Held on March 25, 2019 at 18:00 CET →

March 12, 2019 · 09:15

Apple’s first 2019 Special Event will be livestreamed on March 25, at 18:00 CET. This event will most probably focus on services, including a magazine subscription service and a TV service similar to Netflix. I’m not holding my breath for new hardware.

I’m really curious as to how Apple will structure all these subscriptions. Separately? Bundle them together? Will they even be available outside the US? Two more weeks and we’ll find out.


My Reddit Subscriptions

March 11, 2019 · 11:26

I was recently asked for a list of the subreddits I subscribe to, so here it is…


Luminary Aims to Be the Netflix of Podcasts →

March 7, 2019 · 09:16

Brooks Barnes, reporting for the New York Times:

“We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming,” Matt Sacks, Luminary’s co-founder and chief executive, said in an interview. “I know how ambitious that sounds. We think it can be done, and some of the top creators in the space agree.” […]

Most podcasts are free, but the Luminary app — set to arrive by June — will focus on subscriptions. For $8 a month, subscribers will gain access to Luminary’s ad-free lineup. For creators, Luminary is offering large upfront payment guarantees in exchange for exclusive rights to distribute their work, reducing the risk of a concept and, hopefully, encouraging greater creativity and higher production values. Luminary will also pay creators bonuses if their shows reach certain listening thresholds.

As a creator, I understand that people just want to earn a living and this seems like a steady way to create podcasts professionally, even though I would not choose to go down this route myself. However, as a user, I am strongly opposed to walling off podcasts, which are fundamentally based on open standards, such as RSS. This is one of the best aspects of podcasts — all you need is your favourite show’s RSS URL and almost any podcast player will play it correctly (many of which are free, though you will have to pay for clients who have some advanced features).


It seems unlikely that Marzipan developers would be able or willing to take advantage of higher Mac app prices. Instead, the Mac suddenly gets a flood of low-price, low-effort ports of iOS app. Accelerating the race to the bottom on the Mac.

Jeff Johnson

MacStories Shortcuts for iOS Archive →

March 7, 2019 · 08:53

Federico Viticci:

Welcome to the MacStories Shortcuts Archive, the official repository for shortcuts created by Federico Viticci and the MacStories team.Since the original release of Workflow in 2014, we’ve created hundreds of automations to help readers use their iOS devices more efficiently. The goal of this archive is to offer a complete catalogue of our old workflows as well as new custom shortcuts for Apple’s Shortcuts app […]

Anyone is free to download, modify, and redistribute shortcuts from the MacStories archive. Our shortcuts are provided for free and out of love for the Shortcuts automation community. In fact, we encourage readers to download shortcuts and optimize them to their needs. No attribution is necessary, but we always appreciate it.

This is quite a nice cache of Shortcut shortcuts, including some surprising ones for Mac users.


Getting My Logitech Harmony Hub to Work With HomeKit After Logitech’s Firmware Changes

March 6, 2019 · 09:46

I got a Raspberry Pi last year just to integrate some of my less-than-smart devices with HomeKit, so I could control them via Siri. Late last year I decided to get a Logitech Harmony Hub to be able to control my TV, receiver, and Apple TV with Siri but Logitech decided to change-up their plans, shutting down their local API which integrated with Homebridge. They backtracked on their plans after their users voiced their outrage and new firmware dropped a few weeks ago. I had to make some changes but I finally got my Harmony Hub working with Siri once again. Here’s what I had to do…

Continue reading →


New Flaws in 4G, 5G Allow Attackers to Intercept Calls and Track Phone Locations →

March 4, 2019 · 09:52

Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch:

A group of academics have found three new security flaws in 4G and 5G, which they say can be used to intercept phone calls and track the locations of cell phone users.

The findings are said to be the first time vulnerabilities have affected both 4G and the incoming 5G standard, which promises faster speeds and better security, particularly against law enforcement use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.” But the researchers say that their new attacks can defeat newer protections that were believed to make it more difficult to snoop on phone users.

I have been trying to use FaceTime Audio more and more since it debuted, because it’s safer, supposedly secure, and the quality of the connection is clearly superior. That said, many people I call frequently ask me why I called them over FaceTime Audio instead of a traditional cellular connection, the complaint evident in their voice. Is this is a sign of my generation not accepting technologies that replace “traditional” voice calls? Or am I missing something?


Bringing iOS Apps to macOS Using Marzipanify →

March 4, 2019 · 09:46

Steve Troughton-Smith:

marzipanify is a tool I created to statically convert an iOS app built for the iOS Simulator to macOS. It means you can continue working on and building your existing iOS app from its existing project, using the existing iOS SDK, and just run the tool against the Simulator build to create a functioning Mac app. As a bonus, marzipanify will yell at you when you’re linking against a framework or library that doesn’t currently exist in the iOSMac runtime. It trivializes the process so you can focus on adapting your app rather than managing a build environment.

Curious to see what people will come up with before the expected Marzipan-for-developers announcement during this year’s WWDC. Having said that, I’m still partially horrified at the potential flood of poor Marzipan apps coming to the Mac, and how they’ll affect developers actually catering to the feature set and strengths of MacOS.


Revolut Insiders Reveal the Human Cost of a Fintech Unicorn’s Wild Rise →

March 4, 2019 · 09:43

Emiliano Mellino, for Wired:

“You’re nothing but a number to them with dollar signs attached.” That’s how Revolut, one of the fastest growing fintech startups in the UK, described traditional banks when advertising for business development manager vacancies last October. Revolut was the alternative to these banks, and had already acquired 2.8 million customers without spending a single penny on advertising, the ad said.

But former Revolut employees say this high-speed growth has come at a high human cost – with unpaid work, unachievable targets, and high-staff turnover.

I am an extremely happy Revolut user — it just makes everything easier when abroad or paying for something over the internet in a foreign currency — but this kind of behaviour is unacceptable from a company.


The Secret Lives of Facebook Moderators in America →

March 1, 2019 · 10:41

Casey Newton, for The Verge:

The panic attacks started after Chloe watched a man die.

She spent the past three and a half weeks in training, trying to harden herself against the daily onslaught of disturbing posts: the hate speech, the violent attacks, the graphic pornography. In a few more days, she will become a full-time Facebook content moderator, or what the company she works for, a professional services vendor named Cognizant, opaquely calls a “process executive.”

For this portion of her education, Chloe will have to moderate a Facebook post in front of her fellow trainees. When it’s her turn, she walks to the front of the room, where a monitor displays a video that has been posted to the world’s largest social network. None of the trainees have seen it before, Chloe included. She presses play.

The video depicts a man being murdered. Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life. Chloe’s job is to tell the room whether this post should be removed. She knows that section 13 of the Facebook community standards prohibits videos that depict the murder of one or more people. When Chloe explains this to the class, she hears her voice shaking.

The health consequences resulting from this job must be horrifying, both mental and physical.