Linked

Any articles that I have linked to, and commented on.

RSS Feed


18th March 2019
Permalink

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today introduced the all-new iPad Air in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels.

Apple today also introduced the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics. The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting. And with Apple Pencil support, the new iPad mini is the perfect take-anywhere notepad for sketching and jotting down thoughts on the go. The new iPads are available to order starting today and in stores next week.

I guess this is Apple clearing out a few announcements before the big event on March 25th.

15th March 2019
Permalink

So, Apple have now posted their response to Spotifys long list of complaints against them.

It’s pretty huge, and they go against nearly every point they made. I’m hugely biased as I’m an Apple fan, but to me, everything they said makes a lot of sense.

Here are some of the sections that I found the most interesting:

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

That’s a dig at Spotify already, and they also go a bit further than their complaints, by mentioning their relationship with artists.

One thing that surprised me, was their response to Spotifys claims about Apple restricting them from platforms such as the HomePod or Apple Watch:

  • When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
  • Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
  • We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.

That all sounds like Spotify have actually been working with Apple successfully already.

They then went into detail on the number of free apps in the App Store, how different apps make money while Apple not taking a cut (free, ad-supported, external subscriptions, and physical good sales). They turned this at Spotify by stating that only a small fraction of their subscriptions are going through their payment platform, and that their target is to reduce that to zero. So in effect, reducing their contribution to the platform to zero.

They end with a statement about what it means to music, and also how Apple’s approach is to help grow opportunities for artists, businesses, and every person with a big idea:

We share Spotify’s love of music and their vision of sharing it with the world. Where we differ is how you achieve that goal. Underneath the rhetoric, Spotify’s aim is to make more money off others’ work. And it’s not just the App Store that they’re trying to squeeze — it’s also artists, musicians and songwriters.

Just this week, Spotify sued music creators after a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase its royalty payments. This isn’t just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.

Apple’s approach has always been to grow the pie. By creating new marketplaces, we can create more opportunities not just for our business, but for artists, creators, entrepreneurs and every “crazy one” with a big idea. That’s in our DNA, it’s the right model to grow the next big app ideas and, ultimately, it’s better for customers.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done to help Spotify build a successful business reaching hundreds of millions of music lovers, and we wish them continued success — after all, that was the whole point of creating the App Store in the first place.

This is going to be really interesting to watch play out. Especially the EU court case.

There is one thing that I agree with Spotify on, and that’s the 30% cut Apple take. But I wouldn’t class that as being anti-competitive, as it’s a rule for the entire App Store. I just want it to be lower.

In general, I’m against Spotify on this one. I was unsure on a few things after the complaint was published, on things like the App Store rejections, their claim that Apple dismissed their Apple Watch app proposals, and Apple apparently not letting them on the HomePod. Apple cleared a lot of this up. And while both sides of the argument will include biases, I feel that Apple have quashed a lot of Spotifys claims.

14th March 2019
Permalink

Ben Sandofsky, the developer of the popular app Halide, and now Spectre, shared an update on how the Spectre launch went, and also their plan for future releases:

He also shared some photos taken on Spectre, which look amazing. The hashtag they’re using is #SpectreShot, so I may have to share some myself.

The section I found most interesting was about the initial release:

To say our launch was a success would be an understatement. On day 1, Spectre instantly rose to the first place in the App Store. We had features on The Verge, The Daily Mail, Lonely Planet, Macstories, CNet, Macrumors, 9to5Mac, Uncrate and more.

It was a bit too much success: We rose up the charts so fast that one of Apple’s fraud detection systems kicked in. For a half a day, we were missing from the charts. Yikes! We were panicking and got in touch with Apple.

Fortunately, after Apple’s fine people verified we weren’t gaming the system, we were back at #1, where we stuck it out for almost a whole week.

I had never heard about these “fraud detection systems”, but the people at iA (iA Writer Developers) wrote about it last year. It’s a huge piece of writing, and there’s a ton of great investigation as well, but essentially they found that an increase in traffic to the App Store, can negatively affect the apps ranking. That sounds pretty weird to me.

Fortunately/Unfortunately for me, none of my apps have managed to be affected by the fraud detection systems.

12th March 2019
Permalink

Photo Credit: Royal Mint

BBC:

Prof Stephen Hawking has been honoured on a new 50p coin inspired by his pioneering work on black holes.

The physicist died last year at the age of 76, having become one of the most renowned leaders in his field.

He joins an elite group of scientists to have appeared on coins, including Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

Designer Edwina Ellis said: “I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought.”

I’ve always liked the fact that we place very important people on our money, such as Charles Darwin, James Watt, and Michael Faraday. It signifies their reverence to the entire world.

It also reminds me of a talk that Neil Degrasse Tyson made at The Tanner Humanities Center, where he spoke about what some countries place on their money, from the perspective of America not having a lot of scientific achievements on theirs.

11th March 2019
Permalink

For when Lorem Ipsum just isn’t enough, there’s Jeffsum:

A little text placeholder generator of Jeff Goldblum awesomeness.

For example:

God help us, we’re in the hands of engineers. I was part of something special. You really think you can fly that thing? Life finds a way. Eventually, you do plan to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right? God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man. Man destroys God. Man creates Dinosaurs.

20th February 2019
Permalink

Josh Ginter at The Newsprint:

The details of this 81 megapixel image of the moon is jaw-dropping — you can see everything.

Best of all, it works incredibly well as an iPhone or iPad wallpaper. The way it lights up the lock screen — especially on the iPhone — is stunning. In effect, it looks like the iPhone progressively lights up the screen, creating a fascinating effect with the lit moon that isn’t replicated the same in other types of images.

He’s right, it looks incredible.

Check out the photographers post on Reddit.

28th January 2019
Permalink

I regularly read articles about Apple products that seem to try and be negative just for clickbait reasons, or because it’s a trendy thing to do. But not many of them are as confusing as this article in New Scientist.

In just under 500 words, Clare Wilson describes the new heart rate monitoring features in the Series 4 Apple Watch, the main one being the ability to run an ECG. However counter to the title, the main body of the article seems to praise the new feature. With about 20% of it actually explaining the point they’re trying to make:

But many people have an irregular heart rhythm without symptoms. They will be told by their watch to take the ECG result to a doctor. They could then get potentially risky surgery, go on unnecessary medications risking side effects such as dizziness. At the least, they will be falsely alarmed.

Several trials have investigated whether it is helpful to give ECGs to people without symptoms and the US Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that the evidence fails to show this approach does more good than harm.

The point they’re trying to make is that people will be diagnosed with irregular heart rhythms, but as they lack any negative symptoms, they may be lead to having unnecessary risky procedures.

I have two points to make regarding this. Firstly, if you have an irregular heart rhythm, and the watch detects it, then it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to do. And secondly, if you find you do have one, and even without symptoms, your doctor puts you through risky surgery, then that’s by no means the fault of the watch.

Some people will always read any slightly negative diagnosis with the worst case scenario in mind. That’s why there are such things as hypochondriacs. But then that’s also where qualified doctors come into it. By no means do I think Apple wants you to take an ECG on your watch, and based on that one result, have heart surgery. It’s an indicator that you can use to diagnose atrial fibrillation, and then you can go to a medical professional to further diagnose any issues.

20th January 2019
Permalink

David Sparks had an interesting take on AirPower, that maybe not many people actually care about it. But also that it would be good to end all the rumours:

I hope Apple does perfect and ship the AirPower, if for no other reason, so we can start talking about it. Regardless, I can’t help but think in the overall scheme of things, AirPower is small potatoes.

Maybe this is why Apple haven’t came out at any point with updates to the availability of it. They have had real issues with AirPower, like the heat caused by placing so many charging coils together. But there’s been zero news about it since the announcement, at least officially. Maybe because it’s just an accessory that only a tiny fraction of people will get, so it’s not actually a big deal.

16th January 2019
Permalink

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

Today, DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused web search engine, began using Apple Maps for location-based searches. The company, which previously used OpenStreetMap, switched to Apple’s MapKit JS framework, which Apple introduced at WWDC in June 2018.

This is a very good improvement to DuckDuckGo. Hopefully this kind of integration will also lead to more visibility into any flaws that it may have, which can be rectified once for the entire service. That can only benefit the other platforms Apple Maps is on.

Thinking about DuckDuckGo a bit more, them using Apple maps is probably a very good fit, as I personally see them as the “Apple” of search engines, as they both put a big emphasis on anonymising data requests, and respecting user privacy.

What I want to see next, is DuckDuckGo become the default option on iOS. But as Google already pay a ton of money for this, I don’t see it as being that likely.