On That Patent to Disable the iPhone Camera

Apple

Lots has been written about Apple receiving a patent that would allow infrared signals to temporarily disable the phone camera. I think Stereogum writer Collin Robertson best expresses my thoughts:

That might be OK … assuming the technology is only used at concerts and doesn’t extend to, like, disabling phone cameras during instances of police brutality and/or sociopolitical/religious unrest.

Most of the time patents never actually lead to shipped products, I hope that’s the case here.

Next iPhone to See More Subtle Changes

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Eva Dou, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. plans to break with its recent pattern of overhauling the design of its flagship iPhone every two years and make only subtle changes in the models it will release this fall, according to people familiar with the matter….

The biggest planned change in this year’s phones is the removal of the headphone plug, which will make the phone thinner and improve its water resistance… Apple plans bigger design changes for 2017, the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone.

The “like the 6S but without a headphone jack” is going to get beat to death by the tech press. I’m willing to bet the internals are a nice upgrade. At this point Apple should just introduce new colors since the outside appearance is what seems to matter the most to some people. But, it definitely looks like it’s time to prepare for our 3.5mm jack-less world.

Apple E-Books Antitrust Settlement

amazon

From Amazon:

In November 2014, a federal court approved a Settlement of antitrust lawsuits brought against Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of electronic books (“eBooks”). Those settlements resulted in credits for qualifying Kindle books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. These credits are funded by Apple.

Head on over to Amazon to see if you’ve got any credit.

MacStories iOS 10 Overview

If you missed Apple’s WWDC Keynote yesterday, MacStories has a fantastic overview of all the new stuff coming to iOS 10.

One notable omission is the apparent end of another short-lived attempt at a music-themed social network from Apple. Yes, the Connect tab is nowhere to be seen in iOS 10’s Music app, and unless they plan to add it back in a later beta, the service that was such a big portion of Apple’s music announcements last year may have already been deemed a failure. I don’t think anyone is going to miss it.

Beyond the new design, the Music app is also now gaining native support for lyrics, a great addition if it can compile a database as big as the likes of Musixmatch. The new lyrics feature is also being added to the updated iTunes in macOS Sierra.

Apple Unveils New Apple Music Design

Today at WWDC, along with a bunch of other announcements, Apple unveiled a “top to bottom” re-thinking of the iOS version of Apple Music:

Apple Music has an all-new design, bringing greater clarity and simplicity to every aspect of the experience. It uses a new design language that allows the music to become the hero and a new structure that makes it easy to navigate and discover new music. The Library, For You, Browse and Radio tabs have been completely redesigned to provide an even greater sense of place, and we’ve added a Search tab to make finding music even easier. All of these changes come together to create a design that is clear and intuitive. iOS 10 features a redesigned News app with a new For You, organized into distinct sections that make it easier to find stories, support for breaking news notifications and paid subscriptions.

I haven’t played around with it yet, but my first impressions are positive. The navigation is definitely better.

iTunes Gets an Update

iTunes received an update today. They’ve refreshed the look a little bit and fixed some bugs. Overall it looks pretty good, but I’m already annoyed I can only view my “recently added” screen in the “album format.” I liked the list view.

OS X 10.11.5 is likely to be the last major point update to El Capitan. All versions of OS X since Apple switched to a yearly release model have gotten five major point updates followed by a couple years of security-only updates. Work on major new features and improvements at this point has presumably shifted to the next version of OS X, which Apple will demo publicly at WWDC next month

Safeguard for iTunes Coming Next Week

Apple has given a statement about that “iTunes deleting your music” bug:

In an extremely small number of cases users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission. We’re taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause. We have not been able to reproduce this issue, however, we’re releasing an update to iTunes early next week which includes additional safeguards. If a user experiences this issue they should contact AppleCare.

I’m not sure how they safeguard against a bug they can’t reproduce. Weird. Think they know about the bug that keeps showing me “intro to New Found Glory” in the “for you” section?

Follow-up: iTunes Bug May Have Caused Missing Music

Serenity Caldwell, writing at iMore, on how an iTunes bug may be to blame for a small set of users finding their iTunes music deleted:

Apple Music is not automatically deleting tracks out of your Mac’s library, nor is it trying to force you to stay subscribed to the service. In this instance, it appears that Apple Music is an unfortunate scapegoat: The real problem may be a bug with the subscription service’s container application, iTunes.

I don’t want to incite mass panic, here: This bug appears to have affected a very small number of users, and if you didn’t have local files disappear after updating to iTunes 12.3.3, your library is likely just fine. You can check to see if your library is locally-stored by turning on the iCloud Status and iCloud Download icons; if you’ve been affected, I suggest restoring from a backup or following Apple’s Support document.

I’ve harped on it before but here I am again: please make sure you have backups of your data. I highly recommend something local (like a secondary hard drive) and also an off site backup like Backblaze.

Apple Music to Get Design Overhaul

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple Music will be getting a pretty big overhaul this year:

Following a management shakeup, the service’s new look is being overseen by content head Robert Kondrk and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Design chief Jony Ive’s team also has provided input, along with Iovine and Eddy Cue, the senior vice president in charge of Internet services.

9to5Mac has more on what the new look may be, and it’s described as a more “black and white” interface:

The new user-interface ditches the current colorful and translucent look in favor of a simpler design that emphasizes black and white backgrounds and text. For instance, the user interface in the albums view will no longer change in appearance based on the color of a particular album’s art. While the new interface will eschew color in the user-interface, album artwork will become “huge” and a larger part of the interface in order to avoid a dull black and white look, according to people who have seen the updated Apple Music service.

There’s a small aside at the bottom saying that iTunes itself will get a minor update this year with a larger revamp expected next year. My argument has long been that iTunes needs to be separated into different apps. There’s just too much going on. I’m still using, and for the most part enjoying, Apple Music. The ability to combine my library with the Apple Music library remains the killer feature for me, but god damn when the bugs hit they are infuriating. I currently have two versions of “Thrice” in my library even though they’re named the same and I’ve checked all the sorting options and tried renaming them multiple times. I mean what the hell.

John Gruber on the iPhone SE

Daring Fireball

John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball, reviews Appleʼs upcoming 4-inch iPhone SE.

For anyone with an iPhone 5S (or older) who has been holding out on an upgrade in the hopes of a new top-tier “small” iPhone, the iPhone SE is cause for celebration. If you are such a person, run, don’t walk, to buy one. You will be delighted.

If you’ve already upgraded to an iPhone 6 or 6S and have made peace with the trade-offs of a larger, heavier, less-grippy-because-of-the-round-edges form factor, the appeal is less clear. Me, I talk the talk about preferring the smaller form factor, but ultimately I’m a sucker for top-of-the-line CPU/GPU performance and camera quality.

If I knew that there would be top of the line updates to this sized phone each year, I think I’d go back to the smaller size, but without knowing for sure, it’s too hard to make that call.

More on Apple and the FBI

Apple

More news, and some great analysis, has surfaced over the Apple vs the FBI situation I posted about a few days ago. I’ve rounded up some of the best articles I’ve come across on the subject from a variety of angles.

Rich Mogull, asking if we have a right to security:

The FBI wants this case to be about a single phone used by a single dead terrorist in San Bernardino to distract us from asking the real question. It will not stop at this one case, that isn’t how the law works. They are also teaming with legislators to make encrypted, secure devices and services illegal. That isn’t conspiracy theory, it is the stated position of the director of the FBI. Eventually they want systems to access any device or form of communications, at scale. As they already have with our phone system. Keep in mind that there is no way to limit this to consumer technologies, and it will have to apply to business systems as well, undermining corporate security.

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What’s Going on With Apple and the FBI?

Apple has publicly responded to a court order brought on by the FBI and US government asking them to purposefully break into one of their devices. There’s been a lot written on this subject today, so I’ve rounded-up what I think are the must reads after the jump.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

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Apple Execs on ‘The Talk Show’ Podcast

Daring Fireball

John Gruber has Apple’s Eddie Cue and Craig Federichi on this week’s episode of The Talk Show:

Very special guests Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi join the show. Topics include: the new features in Apple’s upcoming OS releases (iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2); why Apple is expanding its public beta program for OS releases; iTunes’s monolithic design; how personally involved Eddy and Craig are in using, testing, and installing beta software; the sad decline of Duke’s men’s basketball team; and more.

The entire thing is worth a listen (and what a coup by Gruber) but I found the part explaining/discussing iTunes to be the most interesting.