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Dan Moren for Macworld
December 14, 2018 5:18 AM PT
Apple’s well known for its centralized approach, not just in terms of hardware and software, but also in geography. The company has previously pushed hard to locate as many of its non-retail employees as possible in its hometown of Cupertino, in large part because of its belief that its employees work better on physically proximate teams. Look no further than its enormous new home base, Apple Park, which opened there earlier this year.
But this week, the company announced that it would be expanding its footprint in several U.S. cities outside the Bay Area, most notably in Austin, Texas, where it already has its largest non-Cupertino presence, but also in a few other key locations. In particular, Apple projects that in the next three years it will exceed 1000 employees in three cities: Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City.
Given the size and profitability of Apple’s business, it’s no surprise that it would want to hire aggressively, but this does seem to go against the company’s previous ethic of bringing its employees together in a single place. So there must be something significant about these specific locations it’s chosen, something that Apple can get in them that it can’t necessarily get in Cupertino. Something like, say, attracting talent in certain key fields.
Out of idle curiosity, I took a cursory cruise through the company’s job listings for these locations, in the hopes it might provide some tea leaves about where Apple is putting its bets over the next few years.
December 13, 2018 11:54 AM PT
This week on Download Jason is joined by Casey Liss, Florence Ion, and Stephen Hackett. Google’s CEO gets grilled by Congress; Instagram gets a new product leader; Apple does a bunch of stuff; and Supermicro defends itself against Bloomberg. Plus, we honor the 50th anniversary of the “Mother of all Demos”, Casey hasn’t seen “My Cousin Vinny”, we try to save journalism and fail, and a puppy emerges from a box!
December 13, 2018 11:43 AM PT
This week, on the irreverent ninja show with a tech problem, we discuss Dan’s new earbuds that he doesn’t like, what the heck is going on with Qualcomm and Apple, and the utter inanity of watching congress question a tech CEO. Plus, Lex wants to know what we’re listening to and John is annoyed by Apple News.
Jason Snell for Macworld
December 13, 2018 9:25 AM PT
I probably used the original Apple Pencil for no more than an hour, total, during its entire existence. I don’t draw. I avoid writing by hand whenever possible. My penmanship is awful. The moment my teachers began accepting printed essays, I stopped writing them in longhand. I have never had a good relationship with pens and pencils; why should the Apple Pencil be any different?
And yet… something funny happened upon the release of the new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with the second-generation Apple Pencil. I gave the new Pencil a try. And I’ve used it more in the past five weeks than in the three years that I kept the original Apple Pencil… well, it’s around here somewhere, if I can find it, but it’s probably not charged, anyway.
December 12, 2018 12:21 PM PT
This week on the 30-minute tech podcast that will be there for you, time after time, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Kathy Campbell and Joe Dugandzic to discuss whether self-driving cars are getting closer, the people we’d hire to do technical work, headphones we use regularly, and what it would take for smart home tech to go mainstream.
By Dan Moren
December 10, 2018 12:23 PM PT
As with most of Apple’s major software releases, iOS 12 contained a slew of new features—often more than any one person would find themselves using regularly. But one new ability that I have found myself actually using over the past few months was Downtime. This subset of the Screen Time feature lets you define times where your access to certain apps is restricted. However, I ended up turning Downtime off the other week, because it lacked one specific feature: the ability to temporarily disable it.
Let me clarify: While you can override the Screen Time/Downtime restrictions on an app-by-app basis (or, in the case of Safari, a site-by-site basis), there’s no overall control for it other than navigating into Settings and turning Downtime off in the Screen Time section.
That bit me the other week as I was traveling for vacation. Normally, I had Downtime set to run until 7 a.m., around the time I usually get up. But because of our trip to Mexico, we had to leave for the airport at around 5:30 a.m. Now, I do have some apps whitelisted for Downtime (and iOS automatically whitelists things like Phone and Messages), and you can, as I said, override individual apps either for a day or for fifteen minutes. Usually if I find myself waking up before Downtime turns off, I don’t mind popping into a couple apps and telling it to ignore my restrictions.
But if I’m going to be up for a full hour and a half before my limit expires and I need to a) hail a ride to the airport, b) make sure I can access my boarding pass, and c) do all the other time-wasting stuff I do while waiting for a really early flight, well, I don’t want to spend the time overriding those apps one at a time. So I went with the nuclear option and turned the whole feature off.
Then, of course, the issue was that I kept forgetting to turn it back on. As a result, I realized only now, a week after we got back, that I’m not even using Downtime anymore. Which is a shame, because it’s not a bad feature; it’s just inconvenient, in more ways than it’s probably intended to be.
So my proposal is this: treat it a little more like Do Not Disturb. If I wake up before my scheduled Do Not Disturb window expires, I can always use the notification on the lock screen to tell it to turn off DND, and thus receive any suppressed notifications. Downtime should have its own equivalent: “disable until this evening,” for example. A button in Control Center would also work.
I realize that some people use Downtime as enforcement on their kids’ devices and, as such, it requires the Screen Time passcode to disable. But that’s fine; iOS should still prompt you for a passcode if you’re trying to disable it for the day. (And if you’re managing Downtime for your kids via Family Sharing, then there should be the ability for you to remotely override it for their devices in similar situations.)
I’m actually fairly optimistic that a feature like this could make it into a future version of iOS, perhaps even as soon as next year. The Do Not Disturb improvements in iOS 12 are a good example of how Apple refines a feature after it’s been in use amongst the general public, and I’m hoping for a similar refinement to Downtime. In the meantime, at least I’ve finally remembered to turn it back on.
December 10, 2018 12:12 PM PT
Are Apple’s recent aggressive promotional deals for iPhone an indicator that its aggressive pricing strategy isn’t working, or is this all part of a larger strategy? Are the old rules giving way to a whole new set of Apple strategies? We also discuss WarnerMedia’s strange streaming strategy and Jason’s attempt to merge Shortcuts with ancient Web APIs.
December 8, 2018 12:00 PM PT
Consult the lawgiver’s scrolls and watch out for talking dolls! It’s a madhouse! A madhouse! And also, the 50th anniversary of “Planet of the Apes.” Join us as we explore the world of spaceman Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his long journey through an empty desert into a land populated by officious orangutans, plucky chimpanzee scientists, and wry yet violent gorillas. Does it hold up? Why did such a dark vision generate kids’ lunch boxes and multiple sequels and spinoffs? And what are the intricacies of Ape Law?
Jason Snell for Tom's Guide
December 8, 2018 8:14 AM PT
This week, a lot of the focus of the tech industry was on Hawaii, of all places. That was where Qualcomm was putting on a three-ring circus (or was it a luau?) in service of the forthcoming rollout of 5G cellular networks, highlighting the company’s strong position as a provider of 5G-capable chips for smartphones, namely the newly announced Snapdragon 855.
Meanwhile, it looks like the iPhone will be sitting out the initial the 5G rollout, with reports suggesting that Apple won’t have a 5G-compatible iPhone until 2020, because Intel can’t supply the modem chips in time and Apple hasn’t spoken to Qualcomm since their band broke up last year.
Catastrophe! How can Apple survive without 5G iPhones until 2020?
Here’s how: The same way the company survived being way behind on 3G and LTE technologies, both of which it embraced long after its competitors did.
By Jason Snell
December 7, 2018 5:29 PM PT
This week I got a little envious of Matthew Cassinelli, who was proudly posting how he’s building all these Shortcuts on iOS that let him do cool stuff involving automatically posting things to his blog.
His blog, you see, is WordPress—and there’s a WordPress app with Shortcuts support. Through nobody’s fault but my own, this site is built on Movable Type 4, the ancient blogging tool that I know by heart, which explains why I still use it when it’s woefully out of date.
So I don’t have fancy iOS apps or even fancy iOS-friendly web templates. If I want to post a story from my iPad, I end up loading a page template that was designed years before the iPad was a glimmer in Steve Jobs’s eye and pasting and tapping and zooming.
But wait, I thought. Movable Type has an external posting interface, a web API that lets apps like MarsEdit post into it. And I wondered if I might be able to figure out how to build a Shortcut that did all the interfacing with my blogging software’s ancient API and allowed me to post stories from my iPad without using the Movable Type web interface.
I got stuck a couple of times along the way—thanks to Matthew Cassinelli himself for giving me a couple of pointers, and to MarsEdit author Daniel Jalkut for reminding me of the best way to encode web content in CDATA statements so that an XML parser will accept it—but in the end, I made it happen. I now have two different Shortcuts that post directly into my Movable Type setup.
The first one, which lets me post the latest episodes of my podcasts to the site, is a total knockoff of Cassinelli’s, so I’ll suggest you read his post for inspiration. The item yesterday highlighting this week’s episode of Download was posted from this Shortcut.
The second one is built around my current iOS text editor of choice, 1Writer. In 1Writer I’ve created a very basic custom action that runs this URL:
All this action does is tell a specific Shortcut named Post to Six Colors to run, and passes along a single item as input—the name of the current file I’m working on. The shortcut picks up the baton, loads that file from my Stories folder in Dropbox, parses it, asks a couple of questions, and sends the result to Movable Type.
Along the way I had to dig up a Jay Allen post that detailed an obscure Movable Type preference that I had to change in order to control whether a post sent by this method would automatically go live or be saved as a draft, to be published later. In the post, Allen wrote “I expect this to garner interest from about three or four people in the entire world”—and that was written fifteen years ago.
Yet somehow, there I was on a December day in 2018, sitting in my local Starbucks working on an iPad, and once I read Allen’s post I logged in to my server (via Panic’s Prompt app), edited the mt.cfg settings file with
vi, and—just like that—the whole thing worked perfectly.
Who knows how many people in the world this will garner interest from, but the larger point is that if there’s a web API, you can probably control it via Shortcuts! Below, I present how I use Shortcuts to post content to Movable Type via the XML-RPC API in annotated form.
You can also view the Shortcut here.