How Crash Safari works

There have been stories of Crash Safari making the rounds about the Internet recently. Visiting Crash Safari does what the name implies and even causes the iPhone to reboot. Here’s Tom Scott explaining how this website works. 

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

The effects of great design

I’ve been going through videos of the Layers design conference held during WWDC lately and I came across Arik Devens’ keynote where he talks about the Criterion Collection and how great design can distinguish a company and salvage it from being part of a dying industry. In my opinion, this is also the reason physical books have lived on past their alleged doomsday in the face of digital books(I, for one, swear by physical books). Additionally, if you don’t understand Apple, the massive cult following it has developed over the years and why people queue up for an Apple product launch, this video is for you.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

iPad betterment

Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica: […]here are a few iPad-specific feature requests for iOS 10, all of which balance the iPad’s traditional strengths and the needs of people more used to “traditional” desktop OSes. A better multitasking switcher: […]It’s mainly a problem for heavy users who switch between many apps. As-is, the switcher only displays apps three at a time in the order in which they were used, and, if you need to find a new app or something you use less frequently, you have to do a lot of scrolling. My 16GB iPad Air 2 doesn’t leverage me the use of a ton of apps. On the off chance that the app I want to use in Split View isn’t recently opened, ‘a lot of scrolling’ doesn’t truly capture the rampant flicking at the screen that ensues. I, among many others, would unanimously vote for this to be fixed. One app, multiple instances: Almost every app on an iDevice can only run a single instance of itself at a time—the main exception is Safari, which opens a new process for every page you load, and even that is more about process isolation than it is about multitasking. In any case, you can’t launch more than one app “window” in iOS at once. This is an excellent idea- one that a lot of users would benefit from. The problem, however, is that traditional desktops could rely on windowing systems to manage multiple instances of on app. iOS shows no indications of going down the window-based app instance road. Sure you could slap in two Word files by opening a new one in Split View; but what happens when you want to choose between one of those word files alongside Safari? This should be a tough nut to crack for Apple and, I would presume, requires the aforementioned problem tackled first. Consumer-ready multi-user mode: The multi-user mode Apple is releasing in schools could be the first step toward a consumer-ready multi-user mode. Multi-user mode for schools means that Apple is almost certainly working for a multi-user mode for the general public. It’s been a longstanding feature request of ours, since tablets are much more likely than phones to be passed from person to person. A consumer multiuser mode could be tied to Family Sharing accounts the same way iOS 9.3’s multiuser mode is tied to educational accounts; this way you wouldn’t have to buy and install most apps separately for separate accounts. Fingerprints registered to TouchID could be tied to different accounts to automate login. This is happening, it’s only obvious. The only question is ‘when?’ No one would call you crazy for putting your money on this year’s WWDC. Mouse pointer and trackpad support: You feel the need for one the most when using a keyboard case like Apple’s Smart Cover with the iPad—it just feels counterintuitive to have to move your hands from the keyboard to the screen and back if you’re trying to scroll through something. Basic Bluetooth mouse support would be good; full trackpad support would be even better. Many of the multitouch trackpad gestures in OS X already do iOS-ish things like swiping from one full screen or Split View app to another, and both inertial scrolling and the “elastic” rubber-band scrolling debuted in iOS and were moved over to OS X later. I’ll agree that typing on an external keyboard and then reaching out to the screen to interact with the iPad is entirely inconvenient. Done repeatedly, it can be outright taxing. But anyone who visualises a future where the iPad would have a ‘pointer’ in the traditional ‘desktop’ parlance has clearly misunderstood the iPad on an existential level. Pointers exist because desktop softwares display small, interactive controls that demand high precision(let’s leave the Surface out of this for a while). As a result, desktop software can be densely packed with controls and toggles. The iPad, on the other hand, has far fewer controls and they’re all touch based- requiring far less precision and resulting in lesser controls per inch of screen real-estate (this, by the way, is the reason behind the fabled ‘I know working in the iPad takes longer but it just feels…nicer‘; more on that coming soon). Hence the conclusion- iOS will never have a ‘pointer’ and neither would OS X go touch-based(unless Apple takes a page from Microsoft’s book).

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Internet of Things flaw allows a search engine for webcam feeds

J.M. Porup, Ars Technica: Shodan, a search engine for the Internet of Things (IoT), recently launched a new section that lets users easily browse vulnerable webcams. The feed includes images of marijuana plantations, back rooms of banks, children, kitchens, living rooms, garages, front gardens, back gardens, ski slopes, swimming pools, colleges and schools, laboratories, and cash register cameras in retail stores, according to Dan Tentler, a security researcher who has spent several years investigating webcam security. “It’s all over the place,” he told Ars Technica UK. “Practically everything you can think of.” We did a quick search and turned up some alarming results Alternative title: How the NSA gets more than what they bargain for.

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Apple gets a cut from Google’s advertising

Joel Rosenblatt for Bloomberg: Google Inc. is paying Apple Inc. a hefty fee to keep its search bar on the iPhone. Apple received $1 billion from its rival in 2014, according to a transcript of court proceedings from Oracle Corp.’s copyright lawsuit against Google. The search engine giant has an agreement with Apple that gives the iPhone maker a percentage of the revenue Google generates through the Apple device, an attorney for Oracle said at a Jan. 14 hearing in federal court.[…] The revenue-sharing agreement reveals the lengths Google must go to keep people using its search tool on mobile devices. It also shows how Apple benefits financially from Google’s advertising-based business model that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has criticized as an intrusion of privacy. If last year’s rumours of Google’s possible ousting as the default search engine on iOS are to be believed, this deal was why Google is still the default iOS search engine. Taken on its face value, this deal paints Apple as a hypocrite. I’m positive though that there’s more to this debacle that should exonerate Apple off that blame.

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On the A9 outperforming its competition

Antutu(via Gadgets360): In Q4,2015, iPhone 6S,with its A9 processor, won the championship of performance ranking, over 130000 Antutu score . Huawei Mate 8 got NO.2 ,about 90000 Antutu score, with Hisilicon Kirin . Samsung Exynos E7420 devices ,between 80k-90k and Qualcomm snapdragon 810 devices followed after Huawei. Perhaps a more important rating comes from John Gruber’s review last year of the iPhones 6S: Second, take a look at Geekbench’s aggregate results for Android devices.[…] In terms of single-core performance, there isn’t a single Android phone that beats the two-year-old iPhone 5S. Android devices fare better in multi-core benchmarks, because they have more cores (some have eight, many have four — the iPhones 6S still have only two cores), but single-core performance is a better measure for the sort of things you can feel while using a device. Apple is literally years ahead of the industry. Even if you don’t agree that single-core performance is the more meaningful benchmark, you can’t deny that iPhone benchmarks don’t look anything like the benchmarks for high-end Android devices. With the Mac, Apple uses the same Intel chips as its PC competition. On mobile, though, Apple’s in-house chip team has given the company a tremendous advantage over the rest of the industry.

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Why most Apple commentary is clueless

Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s commentary on Fortune: It’s painful to read much of what passes for business reporting about Apple these days. The combination of high page-click value and low barrier-to-entry has reduced online journalism to headlines like this: Apple Chips Implode Everybody Hates Apple The iPhone slowdown spells doom for Apple That last piece, from Dow Jones’ MarketWatch, slips in a reference to Apple CEO Tim Cook as a “bozo”[…] Why, at the start of the earning season, does Apple click-bait fill the Web like so much chum? I blame it on the story arc that every editor understands instinctively and every cub reporter quickly learns: What’s up must come down.[…] Now the tough compare is the March quarter, and bearish reports from a half-dozen Apple suppliers (out of more than 200) are taken as proof that Apple over the next three months will miss its own sales and earning targets. How Apple can miss guidelines that won’t be announced for another two weeks—on Jan. 26, when the company reports its December earnings—is not explained. Personally, I’m well versed with people blindly criticising Apple and its intentions; sometimes even being wilfully ignorant towards well-documented proof with the counter ‘well of course Apple says so…and you simply eat it all up’. As for the aforementioned analysts, Rene Ritchie on last year’s episode of The Talk Show has an excellent possible explanation. To paraphrase: negative predictions help bring Apple stock price down, at which point the analysts clients can purchase stock and sell it later for a profit. The ‘impending doom’ usually never has anything to do with the company(or the truth) itself.

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Business Insider: Signs that Apple is working on AR

Steve Kovach, Business Insider (via Shawn King): Apple may be the iPhone company today, but it’ll eventually have to move beyond the smartphone to find the next major computing platform. Perhaps BI didn’t get the memo. It’s all but a given that Apple is developing a car (even Elon Musk called the project “an open secret” in the auto industry). But when it comes to a new kind of personal computing gadget, several recent acquisitions and hires hint that Apple is at least exploring augmented reality. […]As always, Apple is tight lipped about what it’s cooking up in its research and development labs. But a recent series of acquisitions and hires shows the company is at least experimenting with augmented reality. Let’s take a look at the evidence[…] The entire article then reads like gathered material that is forcibly made to support an idea, rather than concluding the idea based on evidence; possibly even written for writing’s sake (the SEO checks out). Shawn: BI is using the tired cliche of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” but what do you think? Is VR/AR “the next major computing platform”? While tech nerds may be salivating over VR and AR, do you think The Normals want this platform? Will VR be the next HD TV or the next 3D TV? To me the current state of consumer-oriented VR/AR seems like a classic example of excellent technology with no vivid application- ‘Now that we developed VR, let’s use it somewhere’, rather than ‘We need to build x, VR fits the bill’. The latter usually appeals more to ‘Normals’.

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Donald Trump would get Apple to ‘build their damn computers in this country’ 

Kate Knibbs for Gizmodo (via John Gruber): GOP candidate and angry sweet potato Donald Trump claims he’ll be able to change Apple’s entire manufacturing system if he is elected president. I’ll give Trump this: He’s great at shouting impossible nonsense. […] First, in the span of a few sentences, he insisted that he’d impose a 35 percent tax on businesses producing goods overseas while claiming to support free trade. At the end of his rambling, decidedly non-MLK-themed speech, he said this: “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries.” Goofball!

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Petition asking Apple to retain headphone jack has 275,000 supporters

Petition on SumOfUs.org (via Graham Spencer, Macstories): Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again. […] Not only will this force iPhone users to dole out additional cash to replace their hi-fi headphones, it will singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste — that likely won’t get recycled. According to the United Nations, up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped each year. Tell Apple to respect its customers and our planet. Keep the standard headphone jack. Graham was being generous with his quotations of this petition. I find this petition outright foolish. Not only is this going to have no effect, the proprietor has clearly misunderstood Apple’s intention over the 3.5mm jack being given the boot(evident from the first line). Graham: Look, this is a ridiculous and hysterical petition which blows the situation completely out of proportion. But having said that, the fact that this petition (on a website I’ve never heard of before) has exceeded 200,000 signatures in just a single day just goes to show how big a task Apple has if it does decide to remove the headphone jack with this year’s iPhone(remember, these are just rumors for now). […]it will be a more painful transition than the 30-pin to Lightning switch[…] But even if it doesn’t happen with this year’s iPhone, it will inevitably happen – and when it does, expect an almighty backlash. The real question is how many steps Apple takes to reduce the pain to consumers. Whether or not it happens with this iPhone iteration is, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant. My speculation follows the idea that the headphone jack is likely to be excluded amidst a new-design iPhone as opposed to an ‘S’ release. The 2015 MacBook, the iPhone 5, the 2012 iMac and the MacBook Air were all redesigns that saw legacy ports(or optical discs) left behind. 2016’s iPhones should partake, historically, in a design change. Regardless, stories claiming Apple is ripping its customers off or that Apple is outright crazy will spread like wildfire.

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Tim Cook lashes out at White House over encryption 

John Gruber quoting The Intercept: Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption. The White House should come out and say “no backdoors,” Cook said. Gruber himself: Tim Cook is right, and encryption and privacy experts are all on his side, but where are the other leaders of major U.S. companies? Where is Larry Page? Satya Nadella? Mark Zuckerberg? Jack Dorsey? I hear crickets chirping. Zuckerberg is preoccupied with pushing Facebook’s Free Basics campaign(previously Internet.org) and those crickets are chirping right here in India.

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Apple makes changes to iAds

John Paczkowski writing for BuzzFeed: Multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that Apple is getting out of the advertising-sales business and shifting to a more automated platform. While iAd itself isn’t going anywhere, Apple’s direct involvement in the selling and creation of iAd units is ending. “It’s just not something we’re good at,” one source told BuzzFeed News. And so Apple is leaving the creation, selling, and management of iAds to the folks who do it best: the publishers.Apple is phasing out its iAd sales force entirely and updating the iAds platform so that publishers can sell through it directly. And publishers who do so will keep 100% of the revenue To me, the implementation in this piece seems broad and suggestive rather than specific and definitive. However I doubt there is scope for speculation about this report anymore. Here’s how this story plays out in my head: Advertisers see Apple as a ‘control-freak’ middleman; advertisers’ interest in the platform declines; Apple concedes control in favour of both, the advertiser and the publisher albeit with a few quintessential, automated controls in place.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Netflix expands to 130 countries

Samantha Murphy Kelly writing for Mashable: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced Wednesday at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show that the popular streaming service has expanded into 130 more countries as a part of an effort to spark major growth. Later, Sonam Joshi, for Mashable on India’s Netflix launch: While the first month is free, viewers can choose from three monthly options henceforth: the Basic at Rs 500 ($7.50), Standard at Rs 650 ($9.70) and Premium at Rs 800 ($12). In my opinion, India is going to be a huge market for Netflix despite the lack of major content that the country is hungry to consume. But my reasons about a possible Netflix-boom in India isn’t so much to do with more content as it is with demand for the existing catalog itself. Although I have no substantial sources to back my claims, I wouldn’t be surprised to know of an enormous amount of people who would be willing to pay for the content they consume (provided a seamless experience); as opposed to the current system of streaming it off torrents, which, by the way, has been the standard and only way for serious TV-watchers to consume new-releases in a timely manner in India. And if I were to guess, Netfilx should attract most of its customers to its ‘Basic’ and ‘Premium’ tiers since these plans essentially translate to ‘Individual’ and ‘Family’, respectively.

L.G.’s MacBook

Dan Seifert for The Verge: Apple’s new MacBook is slim, light, and especially fetching in gold, but its small screen may not be big enough for everyone. If you’re one of those people looking for a larger screen, but still want a slim and light computer, LG may have just what you’re looking for…Oh and it comes in a strikingly familiar gold finish. …Of course, it’s not quite the same as a bigger MacBook: the Gram’s IPS display is 1080p resolution and it runs Windows 10 instead of OS X. Working on NSShadowcat’s design has required me to pay close attention to and tweak the rendition of HTML elements. This new laptop by Apple L.G. proved to be a fair(unplanned) opportunity to test the del tag.

Lenovo’s New Thinkpad X1 Tablet

Tom Warren for The Verge: While the main portion of the ThinkPad X1 just looks like any other Windows tablet, you can attach three modules to the bottom to transform it into a laptop, projector, or a 3D camera. The modules look like battery packs, and the “productivity” one extends battery life by an additional five hours alongside HDMI and USB ports. Lenovo’s “presenter” module includes a pico projector to project a 60-inch display out of the bottom of the ThinkPad X1. I always have found the need to walk around the house projecting stuff at 60-inches out of my tablet’s crotch with a $280 projector(‘presenter’ module). If that does happen to drain my battery at an unprecedented rate, I can just swap it out for the ‘productivity ‘ module to get a quick charge and revert back to projecting. How thoughtful. (Meanwhile, the folks at Samsung are smacking themselves in their faces for giving up removable batteries) The main problem with Lenovo’s modules here is that they’re incredibly tricky and awkward to attach. You have to peel off a case that covers the ports for the connectors, and attaching the modules involves releasing some latches to ensure they’ll attach securely. It’s all a little too messy for regular use…Lenovo hasn’t perfected the tablet laptop hybrid, but its additional modules are an interesting concept. Unfortunately, those won’t come bundled with the ThinkPad X1 tablet. Fortunately.