[UPDATE] We’re publishing on the App Store in a week

About a year ago I sat in my room reading The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. In it are comic strips hand-picked by Bill Watterson and supplementing commentary, one of which gave shape to a raw idea I previously had: Going to school on a rainy day should be a crime. Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book. It’s been raining fiercely in Delhi these few days. It isn’t one of those out-of-season showers that makes you anxious about global warming, climate change and the general downward spiral the Earth finds itself in. It’s the good kind, the one you complement with the bed-book-beverage trio. Yet the past week I find myself rushing out of the my apartment early morning and loitering back at the end of a particularly long day. The company I’ve joined as an iOS developer is running their deadline and — by extension — so am I. We need to publish our app on the App Store in a week or so. Hence, the lack of regular posts and hence this update. The writing will be back to normal soon and I’m sure getting published will be worth the extra effort. Thank you for sticking by.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

How a Rolex snob learned to love the Apple Watch

Steve Lundin, Commpro: Reluctantly, I slipped up my left sleeve to look down at the ready, brightly glowing dial of the Apple. Its digital face actually looked like an automatic watch, with an evenly flowing second hand. Imposter. “I hate you,” I said to myself, trying to push aside the little tiny bit of creeping admiration for this interloper. One more watch wearer talking positively about the Apple Watch. A tangential thought after reading this article: Reviewers judge the Watch as a technology product and place it against axes drawn by other technology products before it. It’s an understandable route — one that sometimes leads to an unfair judgement. The Watch is judged against statistical lines drawn by the iPhone and the iPad. And when it doesn’t live up to the ‘Apple’s next ‘iPhone’’ tag, it’s looked down upon. The Watch isn’t — and never will be — the ‘next iPhone’; neither, perhaps, will the (presumed) Car. From what I’ve read, the brilliance of Watch has stood out clearer to people who’ve previously been involved in the watch industry than technology folk at large; maybe because they’re asking the question ‘How good a watch is Apple Watch?’ instead of ‘How good a piece of tech. is this?’. Numbers back a general understanding that the Watch is eating away at the traditional watch business. But what’s probably more telling is the anecdotal fact that no one actually hates their Apple Watch1. Instead, sentiments range from ‘it’s not for me’ to ‘I really really love it’. In talking about it, I’ve seen people associating feelings with their Watch — the piece I linked to embodies this property too — in a way I never see people do with their phones or computers (I’m controlling myself from saying ‘people anthropomorphise their Watch’; that’s stretching it too far). This could very well be because the Watch is a relatively new addition to people’s lives but the ‘it’s a part of my life now’ undercurrent is almost palpable. (I’ve been wearing a Timex Weekender since January, to understand the Watch better when I can buy one for myself, the experience is proving fruitful.) Well, maybe there was that one Gizmodo piece but I discount it on grounds of being bogus. ↩︎

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

iOS 10’s Kernel isn’t encrypted

Tom Simonite, MIT Technology Review (via. The Loop): The heart of an operating system is a component known as the kernel, which controls how programs can use a device’s hardware and enforces security. Apple has previously encrypted the kernel in iOS releases, hiding its exact workings and forcing researchers to find ways around or through it. But the kernel was left unobfuscated in the preview version of iOS 10 released to developers last week for the most recent Apple devices. That doesn’t mean the security of iOS 10 is compromised. But looking for flaws in this version of the operating system will be much easier, says Jonathan Levin, author of an in-depth book on the internal workings of iOS. […] Jonathan Zdziarski, another iOS security expert, favors that hypothesis, because accidentally forgetting to encrypt the kernel would be such an elementary mistake. “This would have been an incredibly glaring oversight, like forgetting to put doors on an elevator,” he says. Gruber’s piece came out while I was reading this article. I’m presuming iOS 10’s kernel being unencrypted as an intentional decision. The question in my mind was: “Why not announce it at WWDC?”. If Apple does want the right eyes looking through the kernel for possible fixes or a general betterment, I suppose it worked with the assumption that only people with relevant knowledge would have a look at the innards and pursue it to productive conclusions. Announcing it may have caused a stir in the media, probably questioning Apple’s ‘dwindling competence’ in the process. I have a feeling the iOS 10 Public Beta’s kernel may be encrypted.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

A list of objects iOS 10’s Photos app computes over

Kay Yin, in a post on Medium titled ‘Behind Apple’s Advanced Computer Vision for Photos app’: This is not documented anywhere and is subject to change. Nonetheless, I took the liberty to jot some of these down. Next time when testing, you would have a better idea which keywords to try. It’s a really long list and probably still exhaustive. (The entire post is lengthier than NSShadowcat’s home page; I checked the sizes of the scrollbars to the right for kicks.) A stat of relevance: Federighi mentioned the Photos app could do 11 billion computations per photo.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Reuters: ‘India opens the door for Apple retail with new FDI rules’

Himanik Sharma, Reuters: The new rules exempt foreign retailers for three years from a requirement to source 30 percent of the goods sold in company-owned stores locally.[…] The retail rule changes are also likely to help Swedish furniture-retailer IKEA[…] The new directive paves the way for Apple to resubmit its application and rapidly start retail stores in India. It can also seek an additional exemption for five years if it convinces the government its products meet the “cutting edge” criteria. A snippet from what I’d written when this policy was still a rumour: Also, on the off-chance that it happens: If you read a story tomorrow that reads ‘Indian Government waives local-sourcing norms for Apple’, you know which way the scales tipped. You should read that piece for what I think of this three-year relaxation business. The ‘five years possible if it can be proven that products are “state of the art”’ perogative amuses me. I think that clause — the ‘state of art’ bit — is solely in place so the decision is in the hands of the Indian government and not set in stone. This news doesn’t definitively imply that Apple’s opening stores in India, just that they have a better reason to do so. Personally, I think Apple will take the deal in all its ‘only three years…okay?’ goodness. The Indian government wouldn’t have a rule in effect if it didn’t know — somehow — that Apple would agree; it’s been almost two weeks since this change was rumoured, probably time to size up Apple’s response. (Meanwhile somewhere, in some remote corner of Delhi, a 20s-something guy smirks to himself, reading the story as, ‘Apple, we would really like you to be on-board; in fact, here’s a policy we made you.’)

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Rebuking iMessage for Android; thoughts on Apple’s services business

There’s been a lot of talk recently about why people think Apple should release iMessage for Android. When I first heard the rumour, I was happy about it myself and I wanted it to happen just so I didn’t have to resort to other IM clients (Whatsapp) for my cross-platform communication. But that was before WWDC and iMessage’s gargantuan repurposing, and for different reasons from the ones you’re about to read. In an article on The Verge titled ‘Mossberg: Apple is still a world of its own’ Walt Mossberg writes: The best example of this was that it again declined to extend its much-loved and much-used iMessage messaging system to Android, even though Google still seems vulnerable in this area. Apple did announce a clutch of new features for iMessage, like giant emojis, and handwritten texts. And it’s turning the service into a true platform that can host third-party apps like cash transfer services, stickers, photo editing, and restaurant reservation apps. But all of this seemed more about keeping people on Apple hardware than about building the biggest possible services. When I asked a senior Apple executive why iMessage wasn’t being expanded to other platforms, he gave two answers. First, he said, Apple considers its own user base of 1 billion active devices to provide a large enough data set for any possible AI learning the company is working on. And, second, having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those devices — the company’s classic (and successful) rationale for years. This is different from Google or Facebook or Microsoft, whose messaging and other key apps — including their voice-controlled AI assistants — work on competing devices. Apple is all-in on Apple hardware and still wants you to be all-in, too. On Walt’s first sentence: Apple hasn’t ‘declined’ releasing iMessage for Android. ‘We will never release iMessage for Android’ is Apple declining and — to my knowledge — Apple hasn’t said anything of that sort. iMessage might as well be released for Android at a later stage. There are other articles that talk about the same general idea, like David Pierce’s piece on Wired and another article on The Verge (Circuit Breaker, I suppose?) that strangely reads as an opinion piece but isn’t clearly marked as such. The argument that Apple won’t release iMessage on Android since it wants to add value to its own hardware will hold if you agree with the arguments I am about to make or not. On with the rebuke. First, the rudimentary. Post-WWDC iMessage is a whole ecosystem on its own. You can write apps for it and Apple’s heavily encouraging developers to do just that. And these are rich, interactive apps not just stickers. If you send your recipient a message that relies on an iMessage app they don’t have, Apple presents a subtle prompt to the recipient to download that app. Now, would Google’s Play Store allow such a rich, App Store-driven ecosystem to be distributed on Android? Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement (Section 4.5) reads: You may not use the Store to distribute or make available any Product which has a purpose that facilitates the distribution of software applications and games for use on Android devices outside of the Store. So no App-Stores allowed. But, you say, why not release iMessage for Android without the app-ability within them? Complications and fragmentation of such an idea aside, you probably wouldn’t hear the end of ‘Apple releases inferior version of iMessage on Android’ stories and ‘scumbag Apple’ accusations. But that’s an elementary counter — an implementation detail. There’s probably a bigger angle at play here. Little doubt remains that Apple is pushing into services. So traditional knowledge would point to Microsoft/Facebook/Google as reference for a company that does services and therefore reach the ‘Apple should go cross-platform’ conclusion. I don’t see eye to eye with this narrative. Yes, Apple is pushing into services a lot, Apple Music and this WWDC’s Apple Pay on the web, Siri, and iMessage are good examples of this theory. But that doesn’t make Apple’s services business align with those of companies before it. As I see it, Microsoft etc. want their business run through a model that works by offering its services on all viable platforms. Apple — instead — wants to generate more revenue from its existing customers through services. I hope you see the difference: Other companies’ livelihood largely depends on services; for Apple, their services business is yet another revenue stream. If you’ll allow me a loose analogy: What was once ‘profit by selling 30% more iPhones each year and give customers great software’ is now ‘profit by selling maybe 10% more iPhones every year and 50% more from great software’. Apple has always strived to care about you, the customer, after you buy your device and rip it out of the box – whether via. a great software experience or through Genius Bar appointments. But their business with you was for the most part, over, once the device is yours. Anything that followed is because of goodwill, because it’s the right thing to do or just to increase customer loyalty/satisfaction. Now, it seems that what follows after you rip your device out of its box is an instrumental part of their business.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

App Store apps must use HTTPS by next year

Ben Lovejoy, 9To5Mac: While Apple introduced its App Transport Security feature in iOS 9, which ensured that all connections between apps and servers must be encrypted, it wasn’t compulsory for developers to use it – and Google even helped them disable it. All this will end on January 1st next year, reports TechCrunch, when Apple will require all apps to use HTTPS connections to servers to ensure that only encrypted data is transmitted For some reason my immediate thought was: Apple vs. FBI anyone? This is really good news. Note, though, that enforcing HTTPS doesn’t imply end-to-end encryption. From the Wikipedia page on HTTPS: Additionally, it provides bidirectional encryption of communications between a client and server, which protects against eavesdropping and tampering with or forging the contents of the communication. HTTPS provides encryption until data reaches the server (and vice-versa). Data can then be decrypted on the server. End-to-end encryption implies the data isn’t decrypted until it reaches the destination — most commonly, recipients of IM messages — even if that involves going through a server. I make the distinction, because I thought about Google’s Allo and Facebook Messenger when I saw this news and wondered about their lack of encryption by default. It’s end-to-end encryption they lack; HTTPS is most likely enabled on both.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

”Hello WWDC2016”

I was extra-active on Twitter before WWDC started. From everything I tweeted, I’d like to highlight two. First: Theory on the current ‘Hello X’ marketing: new programming paradigm (Playgrounds for iPad?) that brings Apple more developers. Second: If memory serves right, the last time Apple invited non-Apple centric Youtubers was at the launch of the Watch Maybe this WWDC really is big ‘Big’ it was, but I think I — and maybe others — were expecting a small amount of monolithic changes. Instead, I would summarise WWDC 2016 as being a lot of new changes/features across the small-to-huge spectrum, spanning Apple’s entire expanse. I had a feeling Apple would focus on only three of their four OSes (my guess was tvOS would’ve been skipped) but that wasn’t the case. Here’s my thoughts in a rough chronological order: watchOS = 3.0 watchOS’s redesign is now a way more familiar for iOS users. When Stacey demoed watchOS’s new features she did her job like a pro. This was her first appearance at the WWDC keynote and she didn’t look like it at all. She delivered with confidence and passion. The segment of watchOS 3 dedicated to users in a wheelchair filled me with joy. ‘Time to stand up’ changed to ’Time to roll’. It’s such an Apple thing to care for differently abled users even though they make up a minority of their user base. To add to the joy, I loved the icon they showcased 2  while talking about these changes: A person in a wheelchair leaning forward. I thought that was a positive, cheerful and an all-around excellent icon. The Watch is being pitched to become a more integral part of your life and watchOS 3 shows all signs of that happening. tvOS++  //version: 10 I don’t have a lot to say here except maybe about Eddy Cue’s demeanour. It’s probably just me but Cue seemed a little sombre? It may just be the time constraint but he just seemed off his game, somehow. Eddy’s…cue also seemed a little odd when the presenter before him said ‘the one and only Eddy Cue’. The App Store bloomed under Schiller and Cue’s caught flack for his goofiness in his past presentations. I could just be correlating here. Onwards… let macOS = copy(&OS_X) Did anyone else notice the fact that Federighi was wearing what seemed like the same deep-blue coloured shirt as the WWDC marketting background? His performance was flawless and he seemed to be in control throughout. The man and his words carried weight and authority — almost like Tim Cook. Apart from a little slip-up at the very end of his iOS segment (something to the effect of ‘…but…we do have one more thing’ which then led to a video for iOS; I call it a slip-up because ‘one more thing’ holds meaning in Apple’s culture and I think a passing expression on Federighi’s face revealed that he realised his mistake) I think he did a terrific job. I haven’t seen people take too highly to system-wide tabs on macOS but I think those people are also the ones who own iMacs. I own a 13-inch retina MacBook Pro and I use tabs all the time and everywhere I possibly can. Maybe there’s some correlation between bigger screens and appreciation of tabs? I, and people on Twitter, made the apparent Sierra-Siri connection. Note that the Federighi was on such a schedule he didn’t even talk about which key he was pressing to trigger Siri. When Twitter came to know about Apple’s new filesystem — APFS — there were a lot of John Siracusa pictures (ding ?). I’m very interested in knowing more. Veterans understandably dislike the change of name but I think new-timers — like me — should find no problem. ‘macOS’ rolls off my keystrokes because the majority of my typing throughout the day is Swift code and it relies heavily on Camel Case. I like the new name. OS X seemed, to me, vintage and classy; macOS is modern and crisp. iOS = 10.0 + growth(SIRI + 3DTouch) There’s a lot to talk about here, let’s start at a meta level. If you recall, when Craig Federighi spoke about iOS 7 at WWDC 2013 he said it’s like a new phone but one that you instantly know how to use. iOS 10 is a major overhaul to the iOS design and interaction paradigm. Going from iOS 6 to iOS 7 I knew my way around the OS. With iOS 10 something as instrumental as ‘Slide to unlock’ has been re-thought. Now, I need to put in conscious effort to not press the power-button to wake my iPhone since the display is already on by the time I pick it up — following tradition would just have me put the phone back to sleep. Obviously there’s a long way to go with the Betas until (presumably) September so I’ll tone down the iOS-specific commentary. Before I start with my observations, I’d like you to keep a key detail in mind, referenced from Neil Cybart’s tweet: Less home button, more swiping. Will be very useful when the new iPhone in 2017 lacks the home button. It’s important to keep an iPhone sans-home button in context when reviewing iOS 10. On with the observations: iOS 10: 10 new features. My feeling was: Apple has advanced so much over the years on all axes and yet the ‘No big deal, just 10 new features’ narrative that Jobs pioneered lives on through Apple keynotes. I thought it was an homage to a legacy. Previously, iOS housed Siri and 3D Touch, now iOS is driven by Siri and 3D Touch. The new visual language seems to be all 3D Touch driven. I think it may even solve a lot of the discoverability problems 3D Touch faced until now where people just didn’t know where 3D Touch could be used. Following closely with my previous point, iOS 10 seems to be laying a lot of groundwork for …

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

The end of Apple Man

Katie Notopoulos, BuzzFeed: The prototypical Apple demo person is someone I’ll call Apple Man. Apple Man is a fortysomething dad who just wants to FaceTime his adorable children while he’s on a business trip, and also find a local pourover coffee shop while he’s in town. Apple Man has an Apple Watch (obvious). He needs a way to manage his photos of his adorable children and hiking trips with friends. He loves jogging and mountain biking and wants to use his Apple Watch to monitor his workouts, because he LOVES working out. […] But at yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Apple announced new features for the Apple Watch that feel like they’re designed with someone other than Apple Man in mind. […] The second feature is the emergency alert system. To me, this seemed so clearly designed for women – a safety alert system for walks home at night or through a deserted parking lot. Safety was one of the features women liked about the Apple Watch to begin with — like being able to call an Uber without taking their phone out of their purse. This is a brilliant article (and a great angle at which to look at the emergency feature). I had a thought to this effect while watching WWDC too. During the bit on emergency, the presenter (not sure if it was Kevin Lynch) said something to the effect of ‘If you’re visiting China, it’ll dial the appropriate emergency number…’ and I thought to myself: How many times do I go around visiting any country? Why not pitch it as ‘Watch dials the appropriate emergency number for wherever you’re located’? It sounds more empathetic and inclusive of Apple’s broad demography. (On second thought Apple’s narrative may just be for touting the Watch’s intelligence.) UPDATE: I forgot to mention BuzzFeed interestingly changed their title from ‘The end of Apple Man’ to ‘Apple Is Finally Designing For Women’.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Microsoft buys LinkedIn for $26.2 billion

Jon Fingas, Engadget: Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. The company plans to integrate the career-oriented social network into many of its apps and services, including Office, Skype and Cortana. When you consider the businesses of these two companies from a bird eye’s view and consider this acquisition, it’s as if a bulb goes off in your head. I joked on Twitter, ‘which would you say is a better perfect match: Beats-Apple or LinkedIn-Microsoft?’. (Appetisers are served before the main-course.)

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

The Verge: Apple is making so much clean energy, it formed a new company to sell it

Jordan Golson, The Verge: Apple has created a subsidiary to sell the excess electricity generated by its hundreds of megawatts of solar projects. The company, called Apple Energy LLC, filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell power on wholesale markets across the US. An entirely absurd idea came to my mind after seeing this story: What if Apple’s continued efforts into renewable energy has something to do with the future — almost certainly electric — Apple Car? It’s been a long, tiring week…

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

iMessage for Android rumoured to debut at WWDC

Juli Clover, MacRumors: MacDailyNews doesn’t have a solid track record when it comes to accurately predicting Apple’s plans, so today’s report should be viewed with some skepticism. The site’s source also suggests “plans are constantly in flux” ahead of keynotes so the release could be delayed, but iMessage is “definitely” coming to Android in 2016. I have my reservations. The arguments in favour of this rumour are a) Simplicity b) iMessages are encrypted by default, Google’s Allo and Facebook Messenger aren’t, and c) Apple has released Apple Music for Android and iMessage could be a similar push for Apple into services. a) Yes there aren’t any messaging apps — at least that I am aware of — that are as simple as iMessage. b) It’s probably a fair assumption that Android customers who actively care about encryption would also enable it on their messenger of choice (although this is a clunky affair on Google’s Allo) or select a different IM client. c) Releasing Music for Android gets Apple money. It’s tough to see how Apple would directly benefit from iMessage on Android? Maybe indirectly, by giving Android users a taste of Apple’s side of the park? By making the life of a potential Android switcher a little easier? Or maybe just making Apple’s services more robust due to a larger user-base? Regardless, I’d like nothing more than to get rid of awful old Whatsapp and hop on the iMessage train. So, if Apple does debut iMessage for Android and — by a distant stroke of luck — Android customers flock towards it, I’ll be a happy blue-bubbler.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

MacRumors: ‘Bluetooth 5’ to be announced next week with 4x speed and better range

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors: Bluetooth 5, the next generation of Bluetooth standard, will be formally announced next week, offering double the range and quadruple the speed of the current low-energy wireless protocol. […] It’s unclear whether Bluetooth 5 will come to existing devices as a firmware update or require new hardware, but the latter is more likely. Think: The MacBook, Apple Watch and the rumoured iPhone sans-audiojack. (There’s a recent trend around the Internet associated with the word ‘finally’.)  

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

New Apple Music ad runs during NBA Finals

Dave Mark, The Loop: DJ Khaled and Ray Liotta. An unlikely pairing, but it works. Cause they’re at a nail salon. Millions and millions of songs. Solid tagline. I just can’t get myself to like an Apple Music ad.This one featuring Ray and DJ Khaled better than those terrible Taylor Swift ads though. Props to you for understanding the Goodfellas reference. I’ve said of the Taylor Swift ads: they’re so bad that it seems like Apple Music’s ads are seemingly run by a team different from the regular marketting team at Apple. There’s more evidence in this ad (yes, I know I am going crazy over-analysing this but may we talk about that some other day?) wherein DJ Khaled presses and holds the iPhone’s Home button to launch Siri whereas all of Apple’s recent ads have emphasised the handsfree ‘Hey, Siri’. (If you want to take the over-analysis a step further, notice how DJ Khaled holds down the home button, speaks, and lets go. Apple’s ads usually employ — what I thought was the norm — hold down, let go, speak.)

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka