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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

This is Tim: Apple Q3 2020 results call transcript

Here’s a complete transcript of Tim Cook and Luca Maestri’s conference call with analysts.

Tim Cook: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining the call today.

Before we began, I join the many millions across this country in mourning and memorializing, Congressman John Lewis, who was laid to rest earlier today. We’ve lost a hero who walked among us, a leader in the truest sense, who urged this country to aim higher and be better until the very end. I was humbled and fortunate to know him. And as an Alabama native, his example inspires me still. It now falls to every American to be a living memorial to John Lewis and to carry forward the work and the mission that defined his life.

Throughout the call. I’ll speak in greater detail about Apple support for equity and justice, topics of great urgency on a number of fronts. But first I want to pull the lens back to consider the quarter in full.

In an uncertain environment, Apple saw a quarter of historic results, demonstrating the important role our products play in our customers’ lives. We set a June quarter record with revenue of $59.7 billion, up 11% from a year ago. Both products and services set June quarter records and grew double digits, and revenue grew in each of our geographic segments, reflecting the broad base of this success.

As always, and especially in times of real adversity, what makes us proud as a company is not merely what we did, but how we did it. As millions march for justice in big cities and small towns alike, we committed a hundred million dollars to launch Apple’s racial equity and justice initiative, as well as new and renewed internal efforts to foster diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company.

As COVID-19 continues to represent great risks for individuals and great uncertainty for our communities, care and adaptability are defining how we conduct our work, wherever we work. In some places that has met responsibly reopening our operations and retail stores with enhanced health and safety precautions. In others, where the virus has re-emerged, it’s meant taking the challenging but necessary step of reclosing stores.

I’ll touch on these topics more in a little bit, but first I want to offer some more context on the quarter’s results. Due to the uncertain and ongoing impacts of COVID-19, we did not provide our typical guidance when we reported our results last quarter, but we did provide some color on how we expected the June quarter to play out. I’d like to contextualize our results in terms of that color, across each of our product categories.

Continue reading “This is Tim: Apple Q3 2020 results call transcript”…

By Jason Snell

Apple Q3 2020 results: Everything up

Apple’s results for its most recent financial quarter are out and they’re really good. The company was up in pretty much every category. It was, once again, a record for Apple’s third fiscal quarter.

Total revenue was $59.7 billion. Services hit $13.2 billion, wearables at $6.5 billion, Mac at $7.1 billion, iPad at 6.6 billion, and iPhone at $26.4 billion.

We’ll cover Apple’s quarterly phone call with analysts beginning at 2pm Pacific. In the meantime, here are a bunch of charts!

Apple quarterly revenue by category pie chart
Year-over-year total revenue change

Continue reading “Apple Q3 2020 results: Everything up”…

Mac OS 8, implemented via JavaScript

Developer Felix Rieseberg has written a JavaScript virtual machine emulating Mac OS 8 running on a 1991 Macintosh Quadra. Wild. And because it’s an Electron app, it runs on pretty much any platform.

I fired it up to take it for a spin and it worked pretty well, though I did run into some bugs with scrolling (the scroll box doesn’t really move, though you can scroll down). It’s been pre-loaded with some games and demos, which Rieseberg apparently sourced from a Macworld Demo CD.

Macintosh JS

Personal connection: Among the games on here is Pools of Radiance, a D&D game from the late ’80s. This, however, was the first game I asked my dad to buy when we got our original Macintosh LC back in 1991 or so. We drove over to an Egghead Software near my house, but when I tried to install it, I discovered that it was the MS-DOS version, and I was heartbroken. Fortunately, we were able to return it.1

So, I thought I’d give it a try, finally, at last, and launched it only to discover that it has the old “look up these runes on a physical item that came with the game” copy protection. Curses! Thwarted again.

  1. I remembered there not being a Mac version at the time, but according to Wikipedia, it was ported to the Mac in 1989, so it must have existed! Who knows, figuring out software those days was confusing. I have a vague memory of seeing it listed in the catalogs of the era, but being wary of buying it in case it was the PC version. 

It’s The Rebound 300th Episode Extravaganza and we’ve got guests, songs, dancing and… 

I’m sorry, I’m being told it’s just guests. Still, though, that’s something.

This week on the 30-minute tech show that’s live with no audience, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Heather Kelly and James Thomson to discuss streaming services’ Watch Together features, how concerned we are about Big Tech personally, what we buy from online ads, and the riskiest tech in our homes, privacy wise.

By Jason Snell

Brent Simmons provides some App Store reality

I love a good Fisking, and Brent Simmons has done a number on a Cult of Mac piece about the App Store:

[That the App Store was a much better deal for selling software than what came before] is enormously untrue. I know because I was one of many small developers who were there.

We used Kagi as our payment processor at the time, and I think we paid around 5% for our storefront and payment processing and everything. Completely reasonable, and we were perfectly happy with it.

There were a lot of small companies operating that way. Hardly any of us were selling boxes through retail stores in the 2000s — we were already selling over the web by the mid ’90s.

Nobody saw this as a bargain. The developers I knew — small developers with nice toeholds! — were shocked and astonished, because we were used to paying 5-10%.

Tim Cook will be speaking before Congress on Wednesday, and will apparently be using a version of this argument in his opening statement.

It’s so misguided. The right argument is that the App Store provided a safer, more convenient place for people to find and buy software. To make a disingenuous comparison to buying a box of software at a brick and mortar store misses the reality of how software was distributed on the Internet before the App Store was founded.

The truth is, Steve Jobs really believed that everyone who made money off of the Apple ecosystem was a parasite living off Apple’s greatness.1 The 30% App Store cut is rooted in that philosophy. We can argue about whether it’s fair or not. But don’t tell developers like Brent Simmons that it’s a bargain, because he knows the truth.

  1. The iPod Hi-Fi, for example, was a (failed) product largely created because Jobs couldn’t stand that Bose and other companies were making so much money selling iPod speakers. 

By Jason Snell

Dr. Icon and the Icons of Big Sur

This week’s Upgrade is a walk through the many icons of macOS Big Sur. Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley and I picked our favorites and least favorites. Staring at an icon at full size makes you question a lot of things about the premise of the icons. (Have you ever really looked at the classic Mail icon?)

In general, I think the icon refresh is a good idea. I can also understand that it’s a huge job and that not every icon is going to get a lot of attention. But while some of these icons are nice steps forward, a lot of them are the old icons slapped on a featureless white roundrect.

Here are all the icons in the Applications folder, with Big Sur on the left of each pair and Catalina on the right.

And here’s the Utilities folder:

utilities icons

I wonder if any of these will change between now and the end of the beta. We’ve already beaten back the bad battery icon.

This week Stephen Hackett joins Myke and Jason to consider the best and worst changes to app icons in macOS Big Sur. What makes a good icon? How are books shaped? What is the origin of the term “email”? What happened to Lou? Staring at icons for a long time really makes you think…

By Dan Moren

Automate This: How hot does it feel?

It’s hot.

How hot is it, Dan?

So hot that apparently I’ve taken to creating temperature-related shortcuts?

It started out with a relatively simple idea: I wanted to know if it was cooler inside or outside of my house, to dictate whether or not we should open the windows. Fortunately, last fall I purchased an Eve Degree, a little HomeKit-compatible sensor that can measure temperature and humidity. It sits on the dresser in my bedroom so I can glance over and quickly see the current temperature on its display, or look it up in the Home app.1

So, I put together a little shortcut that gets the current outdoor temperature and compares it, then tells me where it’s warmer.

Of course, that wasn’t enough. I quickly realized I have two possible sources in my house, as my office has a Philips Hue Motion sensor that can also measure temperature. So, I now have the temperature comparison shortcut average the two temperatures (which are rarely more than a degree or two apart), just so I can get a better sense of indoor temperature.

All well and good. But we all know—especially those of us that live in moister climates like New England—that what the temperature is and what it feels like are two different things. And while most weather apps can provide a “feels like” temperature (also known as the heat index), my indoor temperature sensors don’t have that information.

Or do they? How is the heat index calculated anyway? Well, the fine folks at the U.S.’s National Weather Service not only provide a handy web-based heat index calculator but are also thoughtful enough to publish the mathematical formula behind it. All the calculation requires is the temperature and the relative humidity, both of which the Eve Degree can measure, so all I have to do is plug those values into the formula.

Well, what’s a computer good at if not mathematical formulas? So I set out to build my own shortcut to calculate feels like temperature. In a bit of serendipity, one of the actions I needed—Calculate Expression, which lets you just throw a bunch of math into an action—was just added in iOS 14, so I composed the shortcut in the beta. It took a little work to figure out exactly how to convert the notation from the formula into a shortcut-friendly version, but after a bit of trial and error, I figured it out.

And so, voila! Pass this shortcut temperature (in Fahrenheit) and humidity2 and it’ll pass you back the “feels like” temperature. (The version there requires iOS 14, as mentioned, though some third-party apps, such as ToolBox Pro, may offer actions that can handle the work of the Calculate Expression action.)

For my purposes, I’ve wrapped it in a second shortcut that retrieves the temperature and humidity from my home sensors and formats the output to compare it to the outside temperature, but you can adapt it for whatever purposes you want.

Now, if you don’t mind, it feels very hot in here, so I’m going to…uhh…consults shortcut…stay inside, I guess.

  1. See? Jason’s not the only one who can create weather-related automations. 
  2. In a dictionary, for the Shortcuts-conversant readers among us. 

[Dan Moren is the official Dan of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]

By Dan Moren for Macworld

The biggest question about the next iPhone: What’s in the box?

Few products exert the kind of gravity on rumors and speculation as Apple’s iPhone. Every year, the process repeats itself: websites and tweets full of conjecture, hypotheses, and more about what the latest version of Apple’s smartphone might look like, what new features it might add, how it will compare to last year’s model.

Though we’re still a ways off from any formal announcement of this year’s iPhone, there is a bit of a different spin on the theorizing this year. The most intense speculation isn’t about the aesthetics or functionality of Apple’s upcoming device, but something arguably a little more mundane: what’s included with the phone?

Let’s take a moment to cogitate on what might actually be in that box this fall—aside from a brand new iPhone, naturally— and then delve a little bit into why this seems to be changing right now.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

Regis Philbin dies at 88

Regis Philbin was David Letterman’s most frequent guest, and by a lot. Letterman made a statement on Saturday about Philbin’s death:

“In the same category as Carson. Superlative,” Letterman said in a statement Saturday. “He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.”

Here’s a classic moment where Letterman’s writers decided to do a bit where a guest gets forcibly bumped from the show. The victim: Regis, of course.

Rest in peace, Regis.

By Jason Snell

Fun With Charts: Entirely speculative charts about Apple Silicon

Last week I stared directly into the Apple marketing content and speculated about the information it was trying to impart with a WWDC slide. This week, prompted by reader David Hovis, I’d like to engage in some pure speculation on the speed potential of Apple’s new processors, using some back of the envelope calculations and existing GeekBench speed-test scores.

To get started, let’s consider the pace of Apple’s own chip development. Apple’s progress in increasing the base speed of its processors has been very consistent. That makes it fairly easy to estimate the speed of the A14 processor, which presumably will power the new iPhone models being released this fall.

Did you know that the current-model Apple A13 processor generates a faster Geekbench single-core score than the fastest single-core Mac, the 2019 i9 iMac? It’s true. Now, a Geekbench score doesn’t necessarily equate to real-world speed, because every operating system can be more or less efficient. But it’s a pretty decent proxy for us to use on the back of this envelope.

Assuming the normal pace of growth, that theoretical A14 processor will put that 2019 iMac to shame in terms of single-core performance. Now let’s imagine a processor designed for the Mac—I’m going to call it the M14, because why not—that’s based on the A14 but is capable of running at a higher clock speed due to active cooling systems that don’t exist on iOS. (Again, this is a guess—maybe many future Macs will be entirely fanless—but let’s go with it.) A reasonable boost, from a theoretical 3GHz M14 chip to a 3.5GHz M14 would skyrocket single-core performance.

A chart full of made-up numbers.

That’s fun to imagine, but now let’s turn to where the rubber meets the road: multi-core performance. Again, Geekbench scores don’t tell the whole story — different operating systems behave differently when parceling out tasks to different cores. Also, Apple’s approach to multi-core processors in iOS devices is very different from the Intel processors used in Macs. Apple’s chips have two separate sets of processor cores, one set designed for high performance and the other for energy efficiency. When you really need to get work done, though, it’ll use all of them.

Still, for my exercise I decided to just focus on the performance cores, because Geekbench scores really do seem to scale directly with the number of performance cores on a processor. Looking at recent trends, I again tried to extrapolate what the two-performance-core A14 processor in the next iPhone would offer, and likewise for a theoretical four-performance-core A14X processor that would power a new iPad Pro and perhaps (in some form) new Macs. Then, looking at current ratios of single-core and multi-core Geekbench scores, I imagined that my imaginary M14 processor had eight performance cores instead of four.

Another speculative chart.

Look, this envelope is getting messy. But just consider the possibilities. Simply extrapolating the growth of the iPad Pro-class processor into the A14X generates a multi-core score that’s faster than the fastest MacBook Pro Apple currently makes.

Now for giggles, toss in that eight-core “M14” processor. Now you’ve got a Mac that’s basically faster than any Intel Mac other than the very fastest Mac Pro and iMac Pro configurations.

Will it happen? Who knows what Apple’s roll-out strategy will be. But if Apple wanted to use its iPad Pro-class processor in some lower-end Macs, and a souped-up processor in some higher-end Macs, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that it could blow away the performance of almost every Intel-based Mac.

To repeat: These numbers are entirely made up. But going through the exercise makes me pretty confident that Apple will be able to deliver major upgrades to Mac performance.

[Thanks again to reader David Hovis for the suggestion.]

July 24, 2020

A commercial that features a song for a phone number that provides vehicles to children. Hot mustard and product packaging. So many puzzles. And if Apple builds a Safari extension feature, will developers come?

Become a member (members, sign in) to listen to this podcast and get more benefits.

By Jason Snell

How Seattle’s NHL team became the Kraken

Seattle’s expansion NHL franchise is now officially the Kraken. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan has the story of how the branding was executed:

When NHL Seattle first installed signage on its downtown office in 2018, employees arrived at work the next morning to a surprise. Stuck to the door was a Post-it note with a handwritten message: “Release the Kraken.”

Love the name, love the logo, love the look. The NBA needs to bring back the Sonics and Seattle sports will be perfect.

By Jason Snell

Zach Gage returns with Good Sudoku

Good Sudoku

I love Zach Gage’s games, especially Flipflop Solitaire and Really Bad Chess. He’s just released a new game, in collaboration with Jack Schlesinger: Good Sudoku.

Now, I am not a Sudoku player, but my wife is, and she’s been using the beta version of this game and liking it. And so has John Voorhees from MacStories:

Good Sudoku removes barriers to enjoying sudoku with excellent design. It’s not just that it looks good. It does, but Good Sudoku accomplishes something that you don’t see too often. It takes an established game and makes it better by applying computing power so that it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the game. Whether or not you’re a fan of sudoku, an experienced player or a novice, Good Sudoku is a fresh take on a classic game that is worth checking out.

I do like it when good game developers seek out to build a thoughtful, well-designed version to compete with a sea of lousy apps. (Or as John Gruber put it, “joy, craftsmanship, and originality.”)

I don’t know if I’m going to get into Sudoku now, but if anyone could get me to do it, it would be Zach Gage. Good Sudoku is free on the App Store with a $4 in-app purchase to unlock all the features. And you can read more about it on the app’s website.

Toward an easier iPad podcast workflow

Equipment hooked up
Recording a podcast on the road in 2019.

At MacStories, John Voorhees pushes the ball forward regarding podcasting on the iPad:

I wanted a solution that worked equally well when I’m sitting at my Mac or iPad, allowing me to talk over Skype and record myself locally. What I discovered was an incredibly versatile solution that accomplishes in a single device what Snell and Federico cleverly constructed from a field recorder and USB audio interface: the Sound Devices MixPre-3 II.

The iPad podcast workflow of mine that John references is this one from last year, in which I took two devices I already owned—the Zoom H6 recorder and the USPBPre2 audio interface—and chained them together to build a set-up that records my audio and also lets me send and receive audio from Skype as usual.

It works, but it’s two boxes—and John’s solution is a single box. That’s better. However, the MixPre-3 seems to fail at a key moment:

The trouble was that, although I could record my audio locally to the SD card, the audio of the Skype call still played over my iPad’s speakers and used the iPad’s microphone. It was a perplexing problem because audio from other apps was properly routed over the USB-C cable.

Short of Apple supporting more sophisticated audio on the iPad itself, the iPad podcasting dream is a single USB interface that will act as a proper audio interface for the iPad—routing iPad sound out and microphone input in—while also acting as a recorder. It seems like the MixPre-3 fails this at the very last moment. John’s solution, of routing via analog means instead, is very clever—but it means that the audio he’s sending back over Skype is probably coming out of his iPad’s onboard microphones, not his good microphone. That’s good enough, unless his recording fails.

These days… well, these days I don’t travel at all. But before the pandemic, my travel iPad toolkit ended up being the Audio Technica ATR-2100 microphone, which I connect to the iPad via USB and to an external recorder via XLR, since the Audio Technica microphone offers both ports. I end up with a pristine recording of my voice, but no backup recording of the Skype call in case of a recording failure on the other end.

The real question is, which process will complete first — us finding a bulletproof solution to recreating Audio Hijack in external hardware, or Apple realizing that it needs to seriously upgrade its audio game on iPadOS. (Sadly, my bet is not on Apple.)

By Jason Snell

User interface is a casualty of the Streaming Wars

Rolling Stone TV Critic Alan Sepinwall rightfully calls out the terrible interfaces of most streaming services:

The part of the streaming shell game that I’ve never been able to fully understand — and that has somehow gotten worse with each passing year and each new service debut — is just how bad the user experience is on all of them. It’s been 13 years since Netflix began offering streaming content, with Hulu and others soon to follow, yet the user interfaces consistently seem designed to make finding what you want to see — whether continuing a binge or discovering something new — a Herculean effort. Spend enough time toggling between the services, and you’ll want to quote Hall of Fame baseball manager Casey Stengel trying to make sense of the historically inept 1962 Mets: Can’t anybody here play this game?

Sepinwall has plenty of examples, including Netflix’s obsession with forcing you to scroll through stuff you don’t care about in order to find the stuff you want to watch. I described the myriad ways Peacock’s app doesn’t make sense this week on Upgrade.

And Sepinwall doesn’t even get into the playback interfaces themselves, which on the Apple TV are maddeningly inconsistent and fail to honor the (very nice) interface conventions of the platform.

This week, on the 30 minute tech show that usually has a clever introduction line, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Sawyer Blatz and Allison Sheridan to discuss watching video podcasts, our favorite health-related apps, unnecessarily complicated tech processes, and cheap tech gear that ended up being fun to use.

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