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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Upgrade #233: Let’s Start a Rumor

A 16-inch MacBook Pro? A 6K Apple external display? Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has dropped the first detailed report of Apple’s 2019 hardware plans, and Myke and Jason take turns dissecting them and wildly speculating about possible features. Also we ponder what a services-themed Apple event might look like, which is a lovely discussion until someone mentions Drake.

Episode linkMP3 (1 hour, 14 minutes)

Jason Snell for Tom's Guide

Analyzing Apple’s March 25 event ↦

It looks as though Apple will hold a special event next month unlike any it’s held in recent memory, according to multiple reports. At the center of the stage won’t be new Mac, iPhone, or iPad hardware, but a new collection of subscription services.

This rumored March 25 event has probably been inevitable for a few years now, ever since Apple called out the importance of services revenue to its corporate growth. The most reliable source of growth at Apple the last few years has been in services, powered largely by the App Store, along with Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud.

With its new services, Apple is planning on using its stature in the tech world, the size of its customer base, and its staggering cash flow to insert itself in markets that are undergoing rapid transformations. And while Apple’s not going to beat Netflix or Amazon Prime overnight, Tim Cook could always unveil a bundle that ties together video, music, news and more that could further shake things up.

Continue reading on Tom's Guide ↦

Linked by Dan Moren

What part of the UK/Ireland are you from, based on linguistics

I’ve always prided myself on being conversant with many terms from the English spoken in Ireland and Great Britain, having read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies and TV from those countries while growing up. 1

However, this quiz in the New York Times has revealed the sad truth: my ability to pass for a native of those countries is limited not only by my lack of a reliable accent, but also my mishmash of terms from all across the countries. While I can recognize a lot of the words and expressions here, I can’t put them together into a single consistent profile, which the quiz correctly pegged.

Folks in the U.S., however, should check out the author’s similar quiz from 2013, covering our own country. I found it scarily accurate, as it identified not only where I was from, but its second-place guess was where my mother grew up and much of my extended family is from. Language is endlessly fascinating.

  1. And, of course, I lived in Scotland for six months during college, which really brought home the old “two people separate by a common language” chestnut. ↩

Dan Moren for Macworld

Three hurdles Apple’s rumored news service will have to overcome ↦

Apple’s plans to launch a subscription service for news are, by this point, an open secret. Just under a year ago, the company announced its acquisition of existing magazine subscription service Texture, which Apple executive Eddy Cue quickly revealed would be folded into the existing Apple News app.

Since then, the news service has mostly been absent from the limelight, generally taking a backseat to the more prominent news leaking out around Apple’s upcoming video streaming service. But as recent reports have started to filter out that the news service and TV service may be announced by Apple at the same event in March, combined with rumors about the revenue split between Cupertino and its periodical partners, the news service is suddenly back in the front seat—as are the challenges that it will face when it eventually sees the light of day.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

Linked by Dan Moren

Why some publishers are going for Apple’s 50/50 split

Great take from Recode’s Peter Kafka, as always, on why magazine publishers specifically are willing to swallow Apple’s 50-percent revenue split:

And some publishers are happy to do it, because they think Apple will sign up many millions of people to the new service. And they’d rather have a smaller percentage of a bigger number than a bigger chunk of a smaller number.

In the words of a publishing executive who is optimistic about Apple’s plans: “It’s the absolute dollars paid out that matters, not the percentage.”

In short, newspapers that have a thriving subscription business—like the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times—are understandably not thrilled, since they’re pulling in customer revenue already. But many magazine publishers specifically haven’t been as successful at turning readers into paying customers, so they’re falling back to a time-honored strategy of, yes, hoping to make it up in the volume of new customers that Apple will bring in.



Clockwise #281: Developers Need to Feed Their Pet Chickens

This week on the 30 minute tech show that gives 60 Minutes a run for its money, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Aleen Simms and Casey Liss to discuss Apple wanting 50 percent of publisher revenue for its news subscription service, where exactly all the App Store money is going, what Amazon wants with Eero, and transformative technology that seems underwhelming by today’s standards. Plus, a Valentine’s Day-themed bonus topic.

Episode linkMP3 (29 minutes)

Linked by Jason Snell

Report: Apple services roll-out planned for March 25

John Paczkowski of BuzzFeed News, a pretty reliable reporter on this stuff, says Apple is planning a roll-out event for March 25:

Sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company plans to hold a special event on March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Apple Park campus. Headlining the gathering: that subscription news service that has been all over the news today. Unlikely to make an appearance: next-generation AirPods, or that rumored new iPad Mini.

Sources described the event as subscription-services focused, but declined to say anything about Apple’s stand-alone video streaming service, which is also rumored to debut in 2019. Earlier this year, the Information reported that Apple had told studios and networks to be prepared for an April launch.

If this event is at the Steve Jobs Theater it will mark the first time Apple has used the theater for a media event outside of the last two iPhone launches. I’d been wondering if they were going to continue the pattern of finding other venues (in other cities) to complement the annual iPhone roll-out at Apple Park, but this would break that pattern. To be honest, I’m a little surprised Apple isn’t planning to embrace Hollywood and do this event in L.A., but the Steve Jobs Theater is a pretty great venue its own self.

I’d assume the main announcement of this event will be Apple’s forthcoming video service, with the news subscription service (and, presumably, a subscription bundle) as an additional item on the agenda. After the reports this week about the terms of the proposed news service—as someone who spent a couple decades in print publishing covering Apple, Apple’s reported terms are both unsurprising and completely bananas—I am not at all confident that the service will be particularly impressive at launch. (Never count out Apple, but the News service may take a lot of time and many tweaks to get right.)

I’m not at all surprised at Paczkowski’s report that hardware will not be on the agenda. Can you imagine Jennifer Anniston being introduced after the demo of a new iPad Mini? Neither can I. I’m also not sure we’ll need to wait till March to see new AirPods, given that existing AirPods stock is drying up. Maybe it’s a hiccup in the supply chain, or maybe we’re witnessing the shifting of gears. It seems to me that Apple doesn’t need a media event to release some new AirPods.

Jason Snell for Macworld

Now is the time for Apple to re-think its retail priorities ↦

Federico Viticci said it best on the Connected podcast last week: The departure of Angela Ahrendts as Apple’s retail chief is a Rorschach test. One’s reaction to the news will reveal a lot about one’s feelings about the current state of Apple’s retail stores.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Ahrendts featuring aspects of the Apple Store experience that actually preceded her. No, she didn’t invent the where’s-the-line, where-do-I-stand set-up that completely breaks everything we ever learned about how to behave in a retail store. (Under her tenure the approach was modified, not discarded—and in recent years I’ve noticed a more aggressive positioning of employees at the front of stores to intercept new shoppers and put them in the right place.)

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


The Rebound

The Rebound 225: Now We Play Putt-Putt For Real Money!

This week, on the irreverent tech show that will always be your Valentine, we discuss Amazon’s purchase of Eero, Kashmir Hill’s attempt to cut the major five tech companies out of her life, Apple’s naming of a new product marketing head for VR, Angela Ahrendts leaving Apple, and, of course, OUR PICKS.

Plus, tune in for our Rebound-host Mario Kart TOURNAMENT, live this coming Sunday, February 17th at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern. More information to come.

Episode linkMP3 (42 minutes)

By Jason Snell

Finding my way around iOS roadblocks

As I wrote earlier this month, I ended up finishing my Six Colors Report Card story on the Mac because I ran into several roadblocks when I tried to finish the project on my iPad.

The point wasn’t that these tasks were impossible on the iPad, but that they were inconvenient enough—requiring me to research a bunch of apps or figure out workarounds or write scripts—that I was better off just going back to my Mac and doing the work there, primarily in BBEdit and Numbers.

I complained about not being able to do grep searches in my iOS text editors of choice, and while that’s true, several people pointed out that there are iOS apps that are capable of them, most notably Coda by Panic and Textastic Code Editor 71 I own both of these apps and while I don’t like writing articles using them—they’re development tools more than writing tools—they absolutely support grep and I will use them in the future when I need to do pattern-matching searches on iOS.

I wouldn’t want to write in Textastic, but it greps well.

I also lamented the lack of BBEdit’s Sort Lines feature in any of my chosen iOS text editors. I still don’t have an answer for this, though I get the distinct sense that if I spent a few hours teaching myself a bit more JavaScript I could figure out how to write some scripts for 1Writer that would do the trick.

The biggest impediment to finishing my work on the iPad, though, came from the fact that I needed to generate a bunch of charts in Numbers—and they use a non-default font, Proxima Nova, that wasn’t installed on my iPad. How do you install extra fonts on the iPad?

It turns out, there’s a way—just a spectacularly inelegant one. Several apps will do it, taking font files transferred from the Mac and wrapping them in custom configuration files, then emailing them to yourself, at which point you can install them via the Settings app. I tried the free iFont 2 and it worked perfectly. Installing via the same kind of custom configuration file you’d use to install VPN software or to opt in to one of Apple’s beta-testing programs is not intuitive in any way, but with the help of iFont, I was able to get my charts to display on my iPad identically to how they display on my Mac.

Behold, Proxima Nova in Numbers on iPad.

This is perhaps my final lesson from this process 3: That I can work around most, if not all, of the roadblocks that iOS places in front of me. It might take an app I’ve never heard about, a feature of an app I rarely use, or hours of hacking together scripts based on code samples found in Google searches, but I can probably make it work. That’s not necessarily an endorsement—in the end it was far easy for me to go back to the Mac, where I’ve assembled all the tools I need to do my job over more than two decades. It’s a reminder that as appealing as working on my iPad is, there are still rough areas that I’m much more comfortable handling on my Mac.

  1. Hat tips to chanomie and Dave. ↩

  2. Thanks to iFont developer Cameron for pointing it out, and to Donkey for pointing out Anyfont. ↩

  3. Or not. Posting this story was delayed because all of my Shortcuts for resizing and uploading images broke in the latest iOS update. ↩

Linked by Dan Moren

Report: Apple offering 50/50 split in its magazine service

AdAge’s Garrett Sloane:

Apple’s upcoming Spotify-style magazine subscription service, an offering with all-you-can eat access to dozens of publishers, will only pay the media partners 50 percent of the revenue, according to two senior publishing executives from different companies with knowledge of the deal.

Obviously, this information is coming from publishing executives, who have good reason to be ticked off. Apple taking 50 percent of revenue is absurdly high, even more so because Apple is looking to hold on to the golden goose, by not sharing customer data with the publications.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether the 70/30 split in the App Store is still equitable, and Apple has provided exceptions: for example, developers who get customers to subscribe to their app or service can get an 85 percent share after the customer’s first year.

That makes a 50/50 even more ridiculous, especially because of the potential long-term effects, as Tech Crunch’s Matthew Panzarino pointed out:

Apple News is already providing a huge amount of traffic to news sites, but that isn’t bringing money with it. Offering the publications a meager 50 percent of subscriber revenue sure seems like Apple’s giving them the short end of the stick.

Linked by Jason Snell

Panic to rename Coda

This is a weird one. The Panic Inc. Twitter account tweeted:

Many of you noticed a new Coda on the scene — a reimagined document that just launched at — and were concerned about their name. Thanks for looking out for us! We’ve worked with them and resolved the collision — they are Coda and it’s ok.

The big twist: that also means the massive update to Panic’s Coda currently in the works will not be called Coda!!? (It actually makes a lot of sense — it really is a whole new app.) We’ll post some details on this exciting new thing in a few weeks. 2019 is gonna be fun!

Panic’s Coda is a web-development app for Mac that’s been around since 2007. There’s also Coda for iOS, which has also been renamed “Coda by Panic” as a part of whatever deal the company made with this VC-funded Coda startup.

As Dr. Drang quipped on Twitter, “I hope Panic is seven-figures OK with giving up the Coda name.”

As for, it’s a startup that launched publicly last year that’s billed as a “new kind of productivity doc,” sort of a document that’s also a database that’s also a word processor. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.

I hope some of their sweet VC money will grease the skids of whatever Panic is building next.

Linked by Jason Snell

iPad diaries: Finding FileExplorer

Federico Viticci has convinced me that I should be using a different app to connect my iPad to my local Mac mini file server and to my Linode server via FTP:

MacStories reader Matthew brought FileExplorer to my attention last December; having used the app every day for over a month now, I can say this is my new gold standard for integration between Files and external servers….

What sets FileExplorer apart is its excellent integration with the Files app, which, unlike FileBrowser, is fully independent from the main app and doesn’t require a separate authentication step. Connections you create in FileExplorer (and I tested this with FTP, SFTP, and macOS servers) show up as folders in the FileExplorer location in the Files app; even if the main FileExplorer app has been force quit, selecting a server inside its Files extension will open a connection in the background and display the contents of the connected server, allowing you to browse its file structure.

Yes, yes, a million times yes. I had used FileBrowser for a while, but having to launch the app first in order to enable access within Files was ridiculous. FileExplorer has really impressed me in my first few days of using it, and I think I’ve finally found the perfect solution both for my local files and for remote FTP access since the death of Transmit for iOS.

(Dr. Drang has reasons for preferring FileBrowser, but while I understand them, my use case is far more like Federico’s. I’d be happy never to use the app itself at all—I just want Files access. I hope Apple sherlocks this feature entirely in iOS 13.)

Linked by Jason Snell

Stephen Hackett reviews the 2018 MacBook Air

Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels bought a MacBook Air to replace his wife’s 12-inch MacBook:

The biggest news here is that the new Air is the first Mac to ship with a Touch ID sensor without a Touch Bar.

It’s great.

Coincidentally, last week my family also welcomed a new MacBook Air in to our house, replacing my wife’s old 13-inch Air. (I got it on sale for $999, which still really feels like the ideal price.) It’s striking how much smaller the new model is, thanks to the shrinking of the bezels. Lauren misses MagSafe and is still getting used to the keyboard, but she took the laptop with her to a meeting in Oakland on Friday and was thrilled at the battery life she got.

And yes, as Stephen says, that Touch ID sensor (without Touch Bar) is awesome.



Upgrade #232: De-emphasis on Trees

It’s been reported that the iPad’s home screen will be evolving in 2019, but what form will that evolution take? Myke and Jason make a wish list, and also discuss Angela Ahrendts’s departure from Apple Retail, Spotify’s investment in podcasting, and Apple and Disney’s latest streaming-media moves.

Episode linkMP3 (1 hour, 22 minutes)

Dan Moren for Macworld

Apple’s bug bounties need to get with the program ↦

Digital and information security is something that everybody’s had to become all too familiar with over the past decade. As we carry around devices that themselves store everything from our friends’ contact details to our bank account information, it’s become ever more crucial that those devices be well secured against all possible intruders.

In general, Apple’s track record on security has been pretty solid. The App Store’s walled garden, while often the target of derision from competitors, has done an effective job of curtailing malware on the platform and the company issues frequent security updates to its products.

But even Apple isn’t without its security shortcomings, and a few recent incidents suggest ways that the company may need to go beyond just patching vulnerabilities in its software and change the procedures around how it deals with the people who uncover these exploits.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦



Download #90: Spotify Buys Podcasting

This week on Download, Stephen Hackett and Jason discuss Apple’s retail changes and Facebook’s 15th anniversary. Then Natalie Jarvey of The Hollywood Reporter visits to discuss Spotify spending a lot of money on podcasting companies, and Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia unveils the new emoji coming later in 2019.

Episode linkMP3 (1 hour, 10 minutes)

Linked by Dan Moren

Apple’s modem engineering team now reports to custom silicon chief

Reuters reports a slight but significant reorganization in Apple’s hardware engineering teams:

Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, took over the company’s modem design efforts in January, the sources said. The organizational move has not been previously reported.

Connect the dots: Apple drops Qualcomm modem chips, wireless silicon team staffs up, and now that team reports to Johny Srouji, the head of hardware technologies—aka, the folks who develop Apple’s custom silicon.

The design process of this year’s iPhone is probably too far along for an Apple-built modem, but I would be pretty surprised if one didn’t appear in one of the company’s products by next year.

Jason Snell for Macworld

How will Apple redesign the iPad home screen? ↦

Buried at the end of Mark Gurman’s high-profile Bloomberg report about future Apple product announcements is a tidbit that’s of enormous interest to anyone who loves using their iPad.

Apple’s next operating system update, iOS 13, will include… iPad-specific upgrades like a new home screen, the ability to tab through multiple versions of a single app like pages in a web browser, and improvements to file management.

That’s a lot of information distilled into a small paragraph, but what jumped out at me most is the idea that the iPad’s home screen—which has spent almost nine years using a spaced-out version of the iPhone’s design—might finally be getting a redesign that addresses the fact that the iPad isn’t the same device as the iPhone.

It’s exciting! After more than a decade using more or less the same old app-launching interface Apple introduced with the original iPhone, it takes some effort imagine how Apple could reinvent the concept of a home screen for the iPad. But reader, I’ve managed to make that effort. Here’s a look at some directions I hope Apple will go, assuming Gurman’s sources are right, when we first see this feature this summer.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦