Jason Snell on What the future holds for iOS and macOS

Jason Snell:

It’s easy to get so focused on the details on the present that we miss the obvious questions about the future. When John Siracusa wrote about the dangers of Mac OS X getting old in 2005, that operating system had only been around for five years—but he wasn’t wrong that Apple would need to address major shortcomings in the operating system in the long term.

So with iOS riding high (and serving as the basis for pretty much every major Apple platform that isn’t the Mac), it’s hard to imagine what comes next. And yet some tweets by Steve Troughton-Smith made my eyes pop open. After linking to a fascinating Ars Technica story about Fuschia, Google’s next-generation operating system project, Troughton-Smith wrote: “We’re far enough into the age of mobile that the big players are designing the OSes that’ll follow it-surprised if Apple isn’t doing same. It’s not so crazy to think that Apple would want to replace both iOS and macOS with something new and more unified. Post-XNU [the Kernel that runs iOS and macOS], post-BSD [Unix, the underpinnings of iOS and macOS].”

Replace macOS? Okay, we’ve played this game before—just as the Mac has changed chip architectures every decade or so, we’re now 17 years into the macOS/OS X era—and the classic Mac OS lasted about the same amount of time. iOS is comparatively young, but it’s still 10 years old, and built on top of the Mac OS X base. Perhaps its time is coming, sooner than we think. Or perhaps not. Let’s look at Apple’s long-term OS choices:

Plow ahead on both fronts. In this scenario, Apple continues to maintain two separate (but related) base operating systems, macOS and iOS. iOS continues to receive a lot of attention, but macOS also gets major new features, especially ones that are synergistic with additions to iOS. It’s a lot of extra work to have two totally separate operating systems (leaving aside the iOS derivatives that run the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod), but the Mac’s not a business Apple wants to abandon and iOS isn’t going to replace it, so we’re left with a steady state.


The continued existence of the Mac gives Apple a powerful out when it comes to iOS development. If there’s something iOS can’t do, some market or user type that it can’t serve, Apple can point at the Mac and declare it the solution.

This, then, seems to be the current state of affairs: Apple’s investing in iOS, swapping out bits and pieces as it goes, allowing it to grow into something more powerful—but not embarking on a crash course to build it into a Mac replacement. macOS keeps hanging around, gaining new features but not with any urgency. It’s not the most exciting scenario—and it certainly could turn out to be the wrong one—but sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.

Jason covers a lot of interesting points in his post, go read it to get the full impact.

Source: http://www.macworld.com/article/3219695/ios/future-of-ios-and-macos.html

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Apple’s next US data center will be built in Iowa

Apple’s next US data center will be built in Iowa

Apple today announced plans to build a 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art data center in Waukee, Iowa, to better serve North American users of iMessage, Siri, the App Store and other Apple services. Like all Apple data centers, the new facility will run entirely on renewable energy from day one.

“At Apple, we’re always looking at ways to deliver even better experiences for our customers. Our new data center in Iowa will help serve millions of people across North America who use Siri, iMessage, Apple Music and other Apple services — all powered by renewable energy,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple is responsible for 2 million jobs in all 50 states and we’re proud today’s investment will add to the more than 10,000 jobs we already support across Iowa, providing even more economic opportunity for the community.”

Source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/08/apples-next-us-data-center-will-be-built-in-iowa/

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On using your iPhone to take photos of yesterday’s eclipse

On using your iPhone to take photos of yesterday’s eclipse

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the local college so we could watch the eclipse, it was a clear day, very few clouds so we set up where we could watch it with our eclipse viewers.

I decided to take some pictures of it with my iPhone 7+, using the eclipse viewer as a filter, and this is where it got interesting.

I quickly learned that the phone, will actually ignore the eclipse itself and try to auto focus.

And despite seeing the partial sun in the viewer, the camera will show it as a circle.

I wanted to capture the actual eclipse itself as the moon blotted out the sun, so that wasn’t going to work.

So I played with the various phone apps while I waited, and found the Raw app to be the best, as I could set the settings manually, the result was a few pics that looked nice.

The first photo was taken with the camera app, you got the sun but you also got some reflection off the viewer. To use the default camera app for this, you basically focused on the sun then hit the button quickly as it would bounce back very shortly. But this pic did show the sun starting to disappear.

The second was using the Halide app, a bit better, but we still had some glare.

The final picture was taken with the raw app, it’s bit further away than the other two, since I wasn’t using any zoom, but the combination of focus and brightness let me get the sun pretty nicely.

I actually took a bunch of photos using the raw app once I got the settings how I wanted them, but this was the one I wanted to share.

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How to securely dispose of your old mac

Kirk McElhearn, Intego blog:

Your Mac contains a lot of personal information, and is connected to a number of Apple accounts. When you plan to dispose of your Mac — whether you sell it, give it away, or send it for recycling — there are a number of things you should do to make sure your data and your accounts remain secure. There are also a few steps you need to take to remove that Mac from Apple’s accounts.

In this article, I go over the 8 steps you should take before getting rid of a Mac.

Source: https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/how-to-securely-dispose-of-your-old-mac/

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Google shows how easy it is for software to remove watermarks from photos

Google’s research division today detailed just how easy it is for computer algorithms to bypass standard photo watermarking practices, stripping those images of copyright protection and making them vulnerable to reposting across the internet without credit. The research, presented at a leading computer vision conference in Hawaii back in July, is described in detail in a paper titled, “On the Effectiveness of Visible Watermarks.”

“As often done with vulnerabilities discovered in operating systems, applications or protocols, we want to disclose this vulnerability and propose solutions in order to help the photography and stock image communities adapt and better protect its copyrighted content and creations,” Tali Dekel and Michael Rubinstein, Google research scientists, explain in a post published on Google’s research blog earlier today.

Dekel and Rubinstein say the core problem with current photo watermarking processes is the high level of consistency in style. “We show that this consistency can be used to invert the watermarking process — that is, estimate the watermark image and its opacity, and recover the original, watermark-free image underneath,” the duo explain. “This can all be done automatically, without any user intervention or prior information about the watermark, and by only observing watermarked image collections publicly available online.”

The team behind the watermark-removal algorithm was able to train software with enough public examples to identify watermark patterns and then, through a process called “multi-image matting,” separate the watermark’s components from the rest of the image. Then, because the software understands the elements of the watermark like its opacity, structure, and shadow or color gradient effects, Google’s algorithm is able to remove it from any photo containing that specific watermark or a similar one.

To fix this, and create stronger copyright protections for images on the web, the team suggests adding elements of specific randomness to the watermark. However, you can’t simply change the location, or make changes to the opacity of the watermark, Dekel and Rubinstein explain. Instead, you need to make changes that will leave visible artifacts after the removal process. This includes adding “random geometric perturbations to the watermark” — effectively warping the text and logos being used. That way, when algorithms like the one Google uses try to scrub the watermark out, they’ll leave outlines of the image because these systems are trained to look for consistency and work by targeting the vulnerabilities inherent in that consistency.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/18/16162108/google-research-algorithm-watermark-removal-photo-protection

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Cloudflare gives neo-nazi site the boot

Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare:

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services ever again.

Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.

Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.

Now, having made that decision, let me explain why it’s so dangerous.

Source: https://blog.cloudflare.com/why-we-terminated-daily-stormer/

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Nintendo is being sued over the design of the Switch’s detachable controllers

Nintendo is being sued over the design of the Switch’s detachable controllers

link: https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/13/16141018/nintendo-gamevice-sued-design-switch-detachable-controllers-wikipad

Andrew Liptak, writing for The Verge:

Hardware developer Gamevice filed a lawsuit against Nintendo earlier this week, claiming that the design of the Nintendo Switch is too similar to its own products, and that it infringes on a patent that it holds.

In 2015, Gamevice was granted a patent titled “Combination computing device and game controller with flexible bridge section,” which consists of a computing device linked with a pair of connected controllers on each side of it. In its complaint, Gamevice lays out the various ways that it claims Nintendo is infringing on its property and is asking the court to halt production and sales of the device, and to award it damages.

It’s not clear if the court will allow the lawsuit to proceed. As Mashable points out, there’s a major difference between Gamevice’s patent and the Nintendo Switch, namely that the two Switch controllers aren’t connected by a “flexible bridge.”

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John Gruber on Safari and favicons

John Gruber, on the reaction to a piece he wrote comparing Safari vs. Chrome on the Mac:

But really, taken as a whole, the response to my piece was about one thing and one thing only: the fact that Safari does not show favicons on tabs and Chrome does. There are a huge number of Daring Fireball readers who use Chrome because it shows favicons on tabs and would switch to Safari if it did.

The reaction was so overwhelming I almost couldn’t believe it.


The gist of it is two-fold: (1) there are some people who strongly prefer to see favicons in tabs even when they don’t have a ton of tabs open, simply because they prefer identifying tabs graphically rather than by the text of the page title; and (2) for people who do have a ton of tabs open, favicons are the only way to identify tabs.


I really can’t say this strongly enough: I think Safari’s lack of favicons in tabs, combined with its corresponding crumminess when displaying a dozen or more tabs in a window, is the single biggest reason why so many Mac users use Chrome.

You can even make an argument that adding favicons to Safari wouldn’t just make Safari better, but would make the entire MacOS system better, because Safari gets dramatically better battery life than Chrome. For MacBook users who spend much or most of their days in a web browser, it can mean the difference of 1-2 hours of battery life. This is actually a common refrain I heard from numerous readers back in May: that they wished they could switch from Chrome to Safari because they know Safari gets better battery life, but won’t because Safari — seemingly inexplicably — doesn’t show favicons in tabs.

Favicons wouldn’t even have to be displayed by default to solve the problem — Apple could just make it a preference setting, and power users would find it. The fact that it’s not even a preference, even though it may well be the single most-common feature request for Safari, seems downright spiteful. And not just mean-to-others spiteful, but cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face spiteful. It might sound silly if you’re not a heavy user of browser tabs, but I am convinced that the lack of favicons is holding back Safari’s market share.

Source: https://daringfireball.net/2017/08/safari_should_display_favicons_in_its_tabs

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Overcast dropping “send to watch”

Marco Arment:

I’ve spent many months of development on Overcast’s Apple Watch app, especially implementing standalone “Send to Watch” playback. Unfortunately, I now need to remove the “Send to Watch” feature.

I’m sorry to the people who used it. While there weren’t many of you (about 0.1% of active users), I’ve heard from some who it meant quite a bit to.


I shelved the feature until other Apple Watch podcast apps revealed a workaround that made background audio much more usable on watchOS, so I decided to use the same technique and ship the feature anyway, despite its other shortcomings. That was a mistake.

That workaround doesn’t work anymore in watchOS 4. Rewriting “Send to Watch” playback to use the only supported alternative would likely take at least another month of development and testing that I currently can’t spare, and due to its limitations, the resulting usability and experience wouldn’t be good enough for me to confidently ship.


I intend to continue supporting and updating the Watch app as a convenient, lightweight, fast remote control for iPhone playback. But it’s not possible to ship a good standalone podcast player on watchOS today, and it’ll probably take a few more years of hardware and software evolution before that changes.

Source: https://marco.org/2017/08/10/removed-send-to-watch

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