Facebook Portal — Who You Call and What Apps You Use Could Determine What Ads You See →

October 17, 2018 · 11:00

Kurt Wagner, reporting for Recode:

Last Monday, we wrote: “No data collected through Portal — even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you listened to Spotify — will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.”

We wrote that because that’s what we were told by Facebook executives. 

But Facebook has since reached out to change its answer: Portal doesn’t have ads, but data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.

Of course it can. And over time it’ll probably do other nasty stuff to its users.


Morgan Knutson Tells His Story of Working at Google on Google+ →

October 16, 2018 · 12:50

Moran Knutson, in a long thread on Twitter:

Now that Google+ has been shuttered, I should air my dirty laundry on how awful the project and exec team was.

I’m still pissed about the bait and switch they pulled by telling me I’d be working on Chrome, then putting me on this god forsaken piece of shit on day one.

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it. I’m actually suprised (though I shouldn’t be) about how things are done over there.

If your team, say on Gmail or Android, was to integrate Google+’s features then your team would be awarded a 1.5-3x multiplier on top of your yearly bonus. Your bonus was already something like 15% of your salary.


Safari Content Blocker Evaluations — 2018/9/26 Edition →

October 11, 2018 · 09:50

Ben Brooks:

I ran another round of content blocker testing for Mobile Safari in order to take a look at which ones are the ‘best’ right now. To be fair: it’s really hard to find these content blockers on the App Store now, so I grabbed the ones which looked the most popular to me (top lists, and top search results) and then did the testing to see which was the best.

My favourite is 1Blocker X, which I have been using exclusively — it gets the job done, doing excellent work saving me LTE bandwidth (and battery at the same time). It is, in fact, so good, that my wife asked me to install it on her iPhone, and she’s not the type of person who enjoys the additional overhead of using a content blocker.


Apple Frames: A Shortcut for Framing Screenshots From Every Apple Device →

October 11, 2018 · 09:45

Federico Viticci, on MacStories:

When I published my iPhone XS Frames shortcut two weeks ago, I noted that my goal was to eventually support screenshots and device templates from other Apple devices, starting with the Apple Watch and MacBook Pro. After two weeks spent rebuilding the shortcut and asking Silvia to prepare several more templates, I’m happy to re-introduce my shortcut as the new and improved Apple Frames – a comprehensive custom shortcut to frame screenshots taken on every Apple device. Well, at least most of the current ones that the company is still selling.

Federico has two versions of the shortcut for Apple’s Shortcuts app — with and without the Macs. They’re both brilliant.


Amazon Orders Female-Driven Fantasy Series ‘The Wheel of Time’ →

October 11, 2018 · 09:42

Elsa Keslassy, for Variety:

Amazon Studios has ordered “The Wheel of Time,” an action fantasy series based on Robert Jordan’s bestselling fantasy novels, which have sold more than 90 million copies worldwide. Rafe Judkins (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) adapted the material into a series and serves as showrunner.

I read the first ‘Wheel of Time’ book in 1995 (or thereabouts) and the last one was published in 2013, so this is a universe in which I spent close to 20 years in. I hope the TV series is at least as good as ‘Game of Thrones’.


Why It’s Hard to Read the Time on the Infograph Apple Watch Face →

October 10, 2018 · 15:42

Marco Arment:

The Apple Watch is an amazing feat of technology. It’s a computer. It can display anything. With no mechanical or physical limitations to hold us back, any watch-face design from anyone could plausibly be built, enabling a range of creativity, style, and usefulness that no single company could ever design on its own.

But they won’t let us. In a time when personal expression and innovation in watch fashion should be booming, they’re instead being eroded, as everyone in the room is increasingly wearing the same watch with the same two faces.

Open this door, Apple.

Apple could hand pick a few designers and developers for all I care. The current selection of Watch faces is stale and long in the tooth too. They need to address this sooner rather than later.


Google Discloses Privacy Security Flaw Kept Quiet Since March →

October 9, 2018 · 17:30

Gerrit de Vynck, for Bloomberg:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it found a “software glitch” in its Google+ social network in March that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million users, but decided not to tell the public until Monday.

Google chose not to disclose the flaw out of concern it would trigger regulatory backlash, especially in the wake of criticism against Facebook Inc. for its privacy failures, according to the Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the news Monday. In a statement posted to its blog minutes after the report, Google said it plans to shut down Google+ for consumers and introduce new privacy tools restricting how developers can use information on products ranging from email to file storage.

Unsurprising.


Movie About Church Sexual Abuse Is a Contentious Hit in Poland →

October 9, 2018 · 11:49

Alex Marshall, writing for The New York Times:

“Clergy,” a new movie by the director Wojciech Smarzowski, starts with three priests drinking vodka until they can barely speak. One then drives drunk to a parishioner’s apartment and mumbles his way through the giving of last rites.

The picture of Poland’s priesthood only goes downhill from there. The priests steal money from their congregations, spy on each other, and exploit their connections with politicians, journalists and the police.

But much of “Clergy” focuses on one issue: Clerical child abuse, which the movie says the church covered up. In one scene, it incorporates accounts from real people who say they were abused.

This may not sound like the plot for a blockbuster movie — let alone one that features a heavy dose of comedy — but “Clergy” is a smash hit in Poland. It opened on Sept. 28, and more than 1.7 million people saw it during its first week, according to Kino Swiat, the movie’s distributor. That is a huge figure for a country of 38 million.

I thought that our current “democratic” government wound actually ban it outright.


Facebook Portal →

October 9, 2018 · 11:18

Portal was created with privacy, safety and security in mind. And it has clear and simple settings, so you always stay in control.

Having all of Facebooks privacy scandals in mind, this product feels like the perfect companion device to their portfolio… if it was released on April Fool’s.

Do not buy this product. You probably shouldn’t be using Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa either.


Microsoft Now Has the Best Device Lineup in the Industry →

October 4, 2018 · 22:21

Owen Wilson, on Charged:

The company took just an hour to unveil sweeping updates to its existing hardware, and what’s clear after the dust has settled is that Microsoft’s hardware division is a force to be reckoned with. Apple’s dominance on the high-end laptop space looks shakier than ever, because Microsoft’s story is incredibly compelling.

Rather than building out a confusing, incompatible array of devices, Microsoft has taken the time to build a consistent, clear portfolio that has something to fit everyone across the board […]

I really loved one thing about the Surface Book (review unit) I had a while back — when I was done typing, I could just detach the screen and use it as a tablet… or run desktop Lightroom, which I can’t do on my iPad Pro.

Microsoft, it seems, has removed all of the barriers to remaining in your ‘flow.’ Surface is designed to adapt to the mode you want to be in, and just let you do it well. Getting shit done doesn’t require switching device or changing mode, you can just pull off the keyboard, or grab your pen and the very same machine adapts to you.

It took years to get here, but Microsoft has nailed it. By comparison, the competition is flailing around arguing about whether or not touchscreens have a place on laptops. The answer? Just let people choose.

This coherency is what I had come to expect from Apple, but iPad and MacBook look messier than ever. Sure, you can get an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, but you can’t use either of them in a meaningful way in tandem with your desktop workflow. It requires switching modes entirely, to a completely different operating system and interaction model, then back again.

I won’t even bother writing about the sorry state of Apple’s hardware updates but there is one thing that frustrates me daily. I usually start work on my iPad, and when I get to the tougher stuff, I pull out my MacBook Pro. It’s not even because I can’t do that work on the iPad, but because I can get it done 50% faster on MacOS. I would love to just attach/detach the screen or keyboard, instead of switching computers.


iPhone XS: Why It’s a Whole New Camera →

October 2, 2018 · 12:45

Sebastiaan de With:

iPhone XS has a completely new camera. It’s not just a different sensor, but an entirely new approach to photography that is new to iOS. Since it leans so heavily on merging exposures and computational photography, images may look quite different from those you’ve taken in similar conditions on older iPhones.

But unlike previous cameras, exactly because many of its leaps in quality are based on software, we can expect it to change, and even improve. This is just the first version of iOS 12 and Smart HDR.

Likewise, us developers need to update apps to take full advantage of the new iPhone XS and XS Max’s very capable sensor. Since it is such a different animal, simply treating it as any other iPhone will yield subpar results. We’re almost done doing our first take at it and we’ll no doubt have to work more on it in the future.

Sebatiaan also notes a few specific RAW quirks with the XS:

As it stands today, if you shoot RAW with an iPhone XS, you need to go manual and under-expose. Otherwise you’ll end up with RAWs worse than Smart HDR JPEGs. All third-party camera apps are affected. Bizarrely, RAW files from the iPhone X are better than those from the iPhone XS.

I’m going to test Halide’s Smart RAW function, which should allow to extract the maximum quality out of the camera.


Thee Shalt Not Mention iPhones XS & XR in Thy App’s Releaseth Notes →

September 24, 2018 · 15:34

Greg Knauss, on App Store Review rejecting release notes, mentioning the iPhones XS and XR by name:

You’ll note that I didn’t mention the names “iPhone XR” or “iPhone XS Max.” However, Apple again responded with a rejection […]

Apple apparently considers referencing the devices that an application is designed to run on not relevant to its functionality.

So on September 20, 2018, I squared my shoulders, modified the release notes again, and resubmitted the app:

A change was made. We can’t tell you what the change was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the Program License Agreement. But we can’t not tell you what it was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the App Store Review Guidelines. This leaves the app in a state of quantum indeterminacy, and the waveform can only collapse when someone doing App Store reviews stops observing it.

Apple — sensing that I might not be taking the process seriously — responded […]

We had the same situation and I was as baffled as Greg. Hats off to him for standing his ground and fighting absurdity.


An Oral History of Apple’s Infinite Loop →

September 17, 2018 · 14:52

Steven Levy published a whole trove of anecdotes from Apple’s execs, including Steve Jobs, on Wired:

Espinosa: When Steve returned, I drove down to the local Flag and Banner store, bought a pirate flag, stuck an Apple sticker on it and cable-tied it to the bridge across the atrium. It was there for about four hours before security took it down.

I’m halfway through. They’re a must-read.


‘AirPower Really Is Well and Truly Fucked’ →

September 17, 2018 · 11:52

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower really is well and truly fucked. Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot. There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that “told you so” smug look on their faces. Last year Apple was apparently swayed by arguments that they could figure out a way to make it not get hot. They were, clearly, wrong. I think they’ve either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they’ve decided to give up and they just don’t want to say so.

Meanwhile we now have two generations of iPhone’s supporting inductive charging and one of the best chargers for them are from Samsung, though the new Logitech Powered seems like an interesting proposition.


The New Heart-Monitoring Capabilities on the Apple Watch Aren’t All That Impressive →

September 17, 2018 · 11:34

Katherine Ellen Foley:

The new Apple Watch, however, has the equivalent of one lead on your wrist, the company’s website says. “The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or health care setting,” Moore said. Although the watch can detect changes in the patterns of a person’s heart rate, these changes really only show a user if she has a heart rate that is too fast, too slow, or beating irregularly—signifying AFib. The watch won’t necessarily give the full picture a doctor would need to diagnose a medical issue […]

Apple got two FDA clearances through a “de novo” pathway, meaning it had to use data to show that its device worked, and that it was safe. For the ECG clearance, the FDA reviewed a study conducted by Apple and Stanford University in California. This study, called the Apple Heart Study included 588 individuals, half of whom had AFib and the other half of whom were healthy. The app was able to identify over 98% of the patients who had AFib, and over 99% of patients that had healthy heart rates. Cardiologists were able to read 90% of the total readings, although about 10% of them were unreadable.

I’m no doctor but those results look pretty impressive.


How Apple Watch Saved Jason Perlow’s Life →

September 12, 2018 · 12:08

Jason Perlow:

Ultimately, though, I owe my life to my Apple Watch. Because it started this whole machine rolling. And I was very lucky to have my Afib caught during the last three months of public enrollment in the Heart Study, which ended in early August.

I’ve decided that I will be an Apple Watch customer as long as that product exists. That means I’m also going to be an iPhone customer for life as well. So heck yeah, I’m getting a new iPhone XS when the upgrade program kicks in. And a new iPad Pro.

But most importantly, I’m also upgrading to an Apple Watch Series 4 as soon as it becomes available.

I guess you can say I am now an Apple fanboy of circumstance — and of necessity. But I am incredibly thankful this product exists and we now have the technology to detect and correct these kinds of conditions in people. Apple’s leadership in early diagnosis is commendable and is a shining example to the rest of the health wearables industry.

Thank you, Apple. I owe you my life. And I guess we are going to be friends for a very, very long time.

This is probably the only mainstream tech product which saves people’s lives on the side.


Geekbench Cracks Down on Boosted Benchmark Results →

September 12, 2018 · 11:59

John Poole:

Primate Labs is taking several steps to prevent our users from being misled by “boosted” Geekbench results, and to discourage device manufacturers from adding this behavior to future devices.

Primate Labs will exclude the following Huawei phones from the Android Benchmark Chart and the Mobile Benchmark Chart, and will add an alert to individual results for the following Huawei phones that the phones attempt to manipulate benchmark results:

  • Huawei P20
  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Primate Labs also will conduct a review of handsets from other manufacturers to determine if they are also manipulating benchmark results. An initial review which included several handsets from Google, HTC, Samsung, LG, and OnePlus is already complete, and no other handsets were discovered to be boosting.

Finally, Primate Labs will make the “private” build of Geekbench available to trusted journalists to discover and hopefully discourage this behavior by device manufacturers.

Good call.


Tesla Model S Burns Down in Poland →

September 10, 2018 · 10:54

A Tesla Model S burned down in Poland, as reported by Boguszów Fire Brigade:

We were sent to an electric car fire a few minutes after 17:00 (on September 9, 2018), which was parked outside Dzikowiec Sports & Recreation Centre. We found the car completely engulfed in flames upon arrival at the scene. Three more fire engines arrived at the scene (one carrying GBA-Pr extinguishing powder, because of the specifics of the fire) […]

We (the general public) don’t yet have enough experience with electric cars to fully understand when and how they can burst into flames. This scares people and is one of the many reasons news about electric car problems is controversial and popular. ICE1 car fires? Boring.

You can find more photos of the wreck on the fire brigade’s Facebook profile.

  1. Internal combustion engine.

Tesla, Software and Disruption →

September 3, 2018 · 11:40

Benedict Evans:

When Nokia people looked at the first iPhone, they saw a not-great phone with some cool features that they were going to build too, being produced at a small fraction of the volumes they were selling. They shrugged. “No 3G, and just look at the camera!”

When many car company people look at a Tesla, they see a not-great car with some cool features that they’re going to build too, being produced at a small fraction of the volumes they’re selling. “Look at the fit and finish, and the panel gaps, and the tent!”

The Nokia people were terribly, terribly wrong. Are the car people wrong? We hear that a Tesla is ‘the new iPhone’ – what would that mean?

One of Tesla’s advantages is pushing data about roads that cars have travelled to the cars that didn’t, which allows Autopilot to know the specifics of that road. So when one takes his or her Tesla into new territories, the car will be already aware of its surroundings. Mercedes PR once mentioned clients would get new and updated data for their autonomous systems once every year (during maintenance) or when they buy a new car. This sounds ludicrous (pun intended).


Surface Go: The Future PC That the iPad Pro Failed to Deliver →

August 29, 2018 · 11:45

Owen Wilson, on Charged:

If you take an iPad-sized device, cram a whole computer into it, then blur the boundaries between PC and tablet completely, you get something interesting: the Surface Go. I’ve been testing Microsoft’s new tiny 10-inch tablet for a few weeks, and it’s totally changed my perception of what computers are going to look like in the future.

I like his take on Microsoft’s new Surface Go, but I have some comments I’d like to share.

The Surface Go is a curious device, because it sits somewhere in-between devices like the iPad and actual full-on laptops, like the Surface Book or a MacBook Pro. It’s small enough to be an iPad, but has enough processing power to run desktop apps if you need to.

I still use a 15-inch Surface Book 2 and while it can be used as a tablet, there are way too few apps that make it as easy or fun to use as an iPad. On the plus side, typical desktop-y tasks are often easier. This is a software problem on both platforms.

The first thing I noticed after booting it up is just how much better the Surface Go’s kickstand is. I’d never loved these things, because they always felt like they were awkward, or got in the way — but the Go’s hinge goes all the way back, meaning it’s able to prop itself up just a little for writing notes or drawing.

I really wish the iPad had an integrated kickstand — just this would make things so much easier.

There’s a track pad at the bottom of the keyboard, unlike the iPad Pro which omits it intentionally and forces you to use only touch as a fine-grained input. Apple has done a hell of a job trying to convince people that a mouse isn’t necessary, but little to actually prove it; I’d always missed a more precise input method when I used an iPad Pro at length.

Apple argues that Macs shouldn’t get touchscreens because it’s not comfortable to hold your hand out in the air to interact with them but that’s precisely what you do if you use an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard. A trackpad would go a long way to help solve this.

The final notable piece of hardware is the one you look at the most: the screen. It’s 10-inches, with a resolution of 1,800 x 1,200. That’s pretty good for the size, and doesn’t feel cramped for the most part. The display delivers great brightness and color accuracy, with an ambient light sensor that isn’t overly sensitive to light changes — but it’s all let down by a bezel that feels far too large around the edges.

The iPad Pros have calibrated displays which cover the Display P3 gamut. The MacBook Pros do too. The Surface line (apart from the Surface Studio) does not. Microsoft should remedy this immediately. I also consider the Surface Go’s resolution to be too small and the bezels too thick.

I debated even mentioning this, because I’m frustrated by the constant ludicrous push for thinner bezels that lead to the notch becoming universal in smartphones. Bezels really don’t matter, in practice and the Surface Go’s are not really a problem at all when it comes to functionality, but they are sticking point on a year that the iPad is rumored to lose even more of its already-thin bezel.

Thinner bezels allow for the fitting of a larger screen in the same footprint. That’s a good thing. Imagine if the Surface Go had 12” instead but retained the same external dimensions. That would make it so much more compelling.

My first experience with Surface Go was actually a mind-boggling accident that reaffirmed why I wanted this device in the first place. I received it while at the office, where I use my Surface Book with my screen, through Microsoft’s single-port magsafe connector that charges the device at the same time.

I opened the Surface Go box, but the battery was low from being in transit, so I figured I’d top it up while setting it up and slammed in the magsafe dock cable. It booted immediately, and surprisingly worked with the very same dock, so was on my 4K display at 60hz, with the keyboard and mouse already set up.

This is what I really like about the Surface Pro and Go — one device for different situations.

I’m a huge convert to using the Surface Pen for note-taking and annotation with the Surface Book 2, but the Go is a game-changer because it’s so tiny. It’s just a little bit shy of an A4 piece of paper, and around the size of my existing physical notebook, so it’s a good candidate for full-time notes usage.

OneNote is perhaps Microsoft’s best-kept secret. It’s a solid application with stellar support for inking features, like OCR from your writing, or interpreting what shapes you’re drawing. It’s become my go-to inking app, and is great for keeping a larger notebook of things that are written with the pen. The Surface Go is the killer device for ink, and it makes the Surface Pen an absolute necessity. Because I’m using the Go, and it’s always with me, I now write everything down.

The iPad Pro and Pencil combo are really great for taking notes but I my Pencil is usually too far away from me to bother going looking for it. It’s also usually discharged. Apple really should figure out a magnetic way to attach it to the iPad.


If the Surface Go was available with a higher resolution screen (calibrated for sRGB or Display P3) and smaller bezels, with a 256 GB fast SSD and 16 gigs of RAM, I’d probably go for it. It would make a perfect travel computer for developing my photos in Lightroom.


New 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs for MacBooks, the Rumoured MacBook Air and Perhaps Even an Updated MacBook Pro Escape →

August 29, 2018 · 09:34

Intel today announced additions to the 8th Gen Intel Core processor family: The U-series (formerly code-named Whiskey Lake) and Y-series (formerly code-named Amber Lake) are optimized for connectivity in thin, light laptops and 2 in 1s for the first time, while also providing ultimate mobile performance and long battery life.

Intel showed these parts, which are newer versions of what the 12-inch MacBook uses — this should suggest an update soon:

  • m3-8100Y | 1.1 GHz | 3.4 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
  • i5-8200Y | 1.3 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
  • i7-8500Y | 1.5 GHz | 4.2 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores

There are also two possible candidates for the rumoured upcoming MacBook Air if it continues to use 15-watt CPUs:

  • i7-8565U | 1.8 GHz | 4.6 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores
  • i5-8265U | 1.6 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores

The MacBook Pros with Touch Bar use 28-watt CPUs and they were updated in July 2018. The MacBook Pro Escape (the model without the Touch Bar) wasn’t — it uses 15-watt CPUs. The i5 and i7 listed above could easily make it into the Escape if Apple chooses to upgrade them.

If the MacBook Pro Escape gets an update, then I think the rumoured Retina MacBook Air will not get Thunderbolt ports at all, to differentiate it further (and keep the price down). If the Escape is left to die off (Apple really should stop this practice and just remove a model from sale as soon as possible), then there’s a chance that the new Air will get Thunderbolt, but my gut feeling says Apple is going to want to keep the price down and not include it either way. The 12-inch MacBook has not filled the gap left by the 13-inch MacBook Air and they’ll have a hard time keeping the 899-999 USD price-point with all these new fancy technologies. While the ”Air” moniker is well known, logically Apple should just release it as a 13-inch MacBook, but that would be troublesome if it were to be cheaper than the 12-inch model.

All the speculation on this subject just go to show how far Apple has strayed from the simplicity of their line-up.


Paweł Jońca Featured on RetroSupply as One of the Most Inspiring Retro Illustrators →

August 24, 2018 · 09:49

Dustin Lee, for RetroSupply:

We’ve come across some incredible retro and vintage illustrators in our time. Whether you’re into mid-century advertising, pop art, traditional hand-lettering or beyond, there are some insanely talented artists pushing the boundaries of design and illustration – so we thought we’d round together a few of our favorites into one inspiring list of visual eye candy.

Paweł’s work is exemplary and I’m proud to have it hanging on my wall. He also illustrates our monthly iMagazine editions since 2008 or so. You can view some of his favourite pieces here.


Danny Boyle Quit Bond in Dispute Over Casting Tomasz Kot as the Lead Villain →

August 23, 2018 · 13:34

Harry Farley, writing for The Telegraph:

Rumours that the film’s script was the source of the disagreement have been reported, with producers alleged to be unhappy with the decision to focus on contemporary political tensions with Russia and a “modern-day Cold War”.

However one industry source told the Telegraph the split was due to a fall out over whether to cast Tomasz Kot as the lead villain. The 41-year-old Polish actor stars in Cold War, a love story set in 1950s Europe, and was described as a “left-field” decision for a Bond enemy.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Tomasz Kot a few years ago and watched him perform in movies and theatres many times over the years. To see him star in a James Bond film would be completely surreal.