TNW: “Apple to Kill Touch ID”  

Bryan Clark, writing at The Next Web:

According to a new report, Apple plans to kill Touch ID — its lightning-fast fingerprint reader — for the security nightmare that will undoubtedly be Face ID. KGI Securities analyst and rumor magnet Ming-Chi Kuo tonight revealed it’s unlikely Apple will bring back Touch ID in future models, starting in 2018.

Subsequent to publishing, this opening paragraph has been simmered down. The phrase “the security nightmare that will undoubtedly be Face ID” has been changed to, “the facial recognition technology giving security analysts nightmares.” One of the great things about Apple News is that it caches the first iteration of a published piece, which lets you see what the authors really wanted to say before their editors had a chance to stop them.

That aside, the actual rumor in this piece comes as no surprise. I’d be shocked if Apple were to keep Touch ID around. Face ID is more secure and user friendly. From iMore’s Rene Ritchie:

Touch ID always had a 1/50,000 chance a random stranger’s fingerprint pattern would match yours enough to gain access. For Face ID, that chance drops to 1/1,000,000.

The nightmares of Bryan’s “security analysts” aren’t going to age well.

Jira Gets a New Look  

Jira:

We’re building a better Jira that’s more focused and intuitive. We redesigned the navigation to make it easier for you to get stuff done. We’ve made a bunch of changes to improve search, made boards easier to read and use, an much more.

The new design is simpler and very clean. It’s an instant win. I especially love the switch to native fonts. Back in August 2016, in a piece titled Are Native Fonts Here to Stay on the Web?, I had this to say about it:

It’s too early to tell if it’s a fad or the beginning of a longterm trend.

A year later, I think it’s safe to say native fonts are indeed a longterm trend.

Circumventing Paywalls in Apple News

Yours truly, back in August 2016:

The interesting thing about Pop is that it’s the equivalent of right clicking and selecting “Open Link in New Tab” in Chrome on a Mac. In other words, any Javascript on-click events are overridden.

A lot of people haven’t figured this out yet, obviously. 3D Touch complicates bullet proofing on the mobile web.

Until Apple fixes it, you know what else 3D Touch is good for? Circumventing paywalls in Apple News. If you use 3D Touch on an article that has a paywall, it just opens it right up. The Internet abounds with articles on how to circumvent paywalls on news sites, but I haven’t seen anyone mention this one, interestingly enough.

I’m not the kind of guy who goes looking for things that’ve fallen off the back of trucks, but this oversight on Apple’s part is noteworthy nonetheless.

The Customer Experience of Buying the iPhone 8

Apple introduced the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2015, and this year the company added a new aspect to it: you can upgrade to the iPhones 8 through the mail without having to visit an Apple Store.

I’ve upgraded to the new iPhone every year since the iPhone 5S, when I bought my first iPhone.1 Every year has involved standing in line at a store.2 I decided to give the mail option a spin since it was more convenient.

As I’ve already narrated, the initial preorder process was much smoother than previous years, because I was able to set up everything in advance before the critical moment. This meant that the 2:00 AM preorder was very minimal — just a couple of taps.3 4

When new phones arrived, they already had the new SIM cards in them. I suspect that this required Apple setting things up to some extent before shipping them, so the devices would be aware of the phone number that they were replacing. Once I unpackaged the new iPhone, I activated it by pointing the camera of the old iPhone to the screen of the new iPhone, which showed a swarm circle of magic fairy dust. It was very seamless and very cool. I wish I’d taken a photo of it. I can’t find anything online that talks about this or shows a photo of it, or I’d link to it here.

This process worked without a hitch for my wife. As for me, I had to call AT&T to get it fully working, which took a good 30 minutes. Before calling AT&T, both my old iPhone 7 and my iPhone 8 showed “AT&T” in the top left corner of the screen, but my iPhone 7 remained the activated phone — the one that could make and receive phone calls. Once I got off the phone with AT&T, my iPhone 7 showed “No Service” in the top left corner, and my iPhone 8 was the one that could make and receive calls. This is what the magic fairy dust should have been able to do on its own. I’m not sure why it didn’t with my iPhone.5

Next, my iPhone 7 had a slight crack in its lower left corner from dropping it in the bathroom.6 The instructions were that if your iPhone had any sort of damage, you should get it repaired first, and then mail it in. I ignored this advice and just sent it in as it was. A few days after shipping my cracked iPhone 7, I got this email:

The iPhone you sent us arrived with damage. We can still complete your trade-in, but first you’ll need to pay the standard service fee for the repairs.

And also:

Please note that the repair service fee payment is due exactly seven days from the date of this email. If the fee is not paid on time, the iPhone will be sent back to you unrepaired. The associated loan will resume, in addition to any payments for your new iPhone.

The fee was “$29 plus applicable taxes,” which is what I would have paid had I gone to an Apple Store and used my AppleCare+ to take care of it. In other words, shipping the cracked iPhone didn’t cost me any more than it would have had I fixed it myself first, plus I had the convenience of paying online instead of going through the rigamarole of traveling to an Apple Store to fix a device that I was on the verge of shipping through FedEx.

Was the overall experience of upgrading via the mail good enough that I’ll do it this way again next year? Absolutely yes. This is the way I’m doing it going forward, assuming Apple continues to offer the option.


  1. When you upgrade to the new iPhone via the iPhone Upgrade Program, the only cost you have to pay besides your normal monthly payment is the tax of the new device. Unless, of course, your old iPhone is damaged in some way, in which case you have to pay the AppleCare+ rate to get your iPhone restored to premium condition. ↩︎
  2. Standing in line has improved over the years. It used to be a free-for-all. But even now with the appointment system, it’s still a greater hassle than simply signing a FedEx package at your doorstep. ↩︎
  3. Lest there be any ambiguity, this newfound smoothness applied to customers regardless of whether their choice was to have their new iPhone mailed to them directly, or have it available for pickup at a nearby Apple Store. ↩︎
  4. Note that you had to had this initial preorder stuff done before midday the eve of the preorder. If you waited until that afternoon, the Apple Store iOS application wouldn’t let you in — it was too late at that point. ↩︎
  5. When we upgraded our phones last year, the folks at AT&T somehow botched up the process on my wife’s iPhone and we had to go pick up a new free SIM card at a local AT&T store. I wonder if the fact that her SIM card was changed to a newer one accounts for why the process for hers was smoother this time around. I don’t know any of the technology behind this though, so it’s total speculation. ↩︎
  6. No comment. ↩︎

The Blank New Tab Page Extension for Chrome  

If you’re using Chrome as your default browser — and if you’re not, you should be — then you’re probably weary of seeing the “Most Visited” thumbnails that appear when you create a new tab or window. This extension fixes that and replaces it with a completely blank screen. I wish I’d started using this a long time ago. It makes for a much cleaner user experience, and removes any worry when screensharing with coworkers or screencasting in a professional context.1


  1. Why broadcast to everyone what your top 6 most visited websites are? Regardless of their respectibility, there’s just no good reason to concede your privacy like that. ↩︎

Running Pace Calculator  

This morning I decided to resurrect an old project that I created back in 2014 for calculating your pace after a run.1 Here’s the description at the GitHub repo for it:

Sometimes, you need to know how fast you ran.

It’s dropdead simple, but worth checking out.


  1. The main change this morning was cleaning up the JavaScript a bit so it’s ES6. ↩︎

How to Determine the Minimum Universe Required for a Given Percentage

Here’s a fun math problem that I composed for fun today, inspired by the recent polls feature that Instagram released earlier this week:

If 47% of respondents answered affirmative, what is the minimum number of total respondents necessary such that rounding the affirmatives to the closest integer would result in that percentage? Express the answer in terms of a formula that could be applied to any percentage from 1-99.

You can’t solve this algebraically, but you can solve it algorithmically. Here’s how you’d do that in JavaScript:

const minimumUniverse = (knownPercent) => {
  knownPercent = parseInt(knownPercent);
  if (!(knownPercent > 0 && knownPercent < 100)) {
    return 'Please enter a number between 0 and 100';
  }
  for (let i = 1; i < 100; i++) {
    for (let j = i + 1; j <= 100; j++) {
      const currentPercent = Math.round((i / j) * 100);
      if (currentPercent < knownPercent) {
        break;
      } else if (currentPercent === knownPercent) {
        return `${knownPercent}% equates to ${i} out of ${j}`;
      }
    }
  }
};

Then you could just call it like this:

minimumUniverse(47);

This outputs the following:

47% equates to 7 out of 15

Pretty cool.

John Voorhees Recounts His App Story  

John Voorhees, writing at MacStories:

Last Friday, I left my job as a lawyer. Many readers may not even know that’s something I did because it’s not pertinent to what I do at MacStories. Over the course of many years, that job became less interesting and challenging. Eventually, I recognized that I needed a change, but nothing felt quite right. That is, until the day I decided to make an app. I’m not much of an app developer, but I wouldn’t be where I am now, writing this, if I hadn’t built one. This is my app story.

Fascinating. Although it wasn’t the intent of the piece, John’s story is a reminder of just how incredibly hard it is to have a go at being an indie app developer. If you take the exact same set of skills that an indie app developer must have and apply them at a company, you’ll have a very good job. You won’t have as much upward mobility potential as you would have being an indie app developer, but you’ll have the guarantee of a software engineer’s steady monthly income. For every indie app developer making half a million per year, there are a hundred indie app developers not making enough to support themselves, dreaming blindly of one day breaking free, but knowing it will never happen in their current situation.

There’s nothing wrong with making a living by the written word, and if that makes John happy for years to come, more power to him. If he decides he prefers the intellectual challenge of writing software, however, he’ll want to consider working at a company that can put his iOS knowledge to work.

Google Acknowledges It’s the Underdog in Its Google Pixel 2 Video  

How to know when you’re the underdog: when you have to make little jabs at your superior competitor. Google does that very noticeably in its “Meet Google Pixel 2” video, twice.1 First, it mocks the iPhone for needing two cameras to handle portrait mode. Second, it mocks the iPhone’s storage capacity.

I’ll leave the pundits to debate whether Google’s portrait mode is just as good with a single camera as Apple’s with two cameras, but I will pick a bone with the “Storage Full” iOS screenshot. That screenshot appears in iOS when your device is full, not your iCloud storage. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X all come in 64GB and 256GB configurations. The Pixel 2 comes in 64GB and 128GB. So if you want to buy the phone that has the most amount of storage capacity directly on the device, you’ll buy an iPhone. I agree it’s ridiculous that Apple nickles and dimes you with its optional iCloud storage; at a minimum, you should have free iCloud storage up to your device capacity, so you can have a full backup of your iPhone regardless of how full your device is. Even better would be having unlimited free storage, as Google offers. But regardless of that, Google’s positioning on this matter in this promo video is careless and misleading. Showing that iOS screenshot in the context of boasting about free unlimited cloud storage is false equivalence.

This sort of roughshod attention to detail permeates Google’s hardware, software, web design, and advertising. It really rustles my jimmies.


  1. You never see Apple condescend to this sort of thing, for the simple reason that it doesn’t have to. Its devices stand on their own feet, without the need to throw fantasy mud abroad. ↩︎

Todd Haselton on the iPhone 8 Plus  

Todd Haselton, writing for CNBC:

I praised the iPhone 8 Plus in my review and I still think it’s the best iPhone for most people who don’t care about having the best iPhone out there.

This sentence made me laugh. What Todd is saying is that the iPhone 8 Plus will be the second best iPhone on the market once the iPhone X ships. I was unaware that there was anyone postulating that this is not the case.

About Those Sharks  

John Gruber:

Apple’s remastered videos for the Aerial screensaver look amazing. There’s a daytime flyover in Dubai in which you can now see that one of the skyscrapers has a pool on the roof with two sharks in it. It’s on the left-hand side of the street.

After having actually seen this screensaver in person, I’m pretty sure these were just emblems of sharks printed on the pool floor.

Apple TV 4K Won’t Let You Download 4K Movies  

Napier Lopez, writing at The Next Web:

Apple’s 4K TV has launched to a wealth of positive reviews, but it turns out the 4K experience comes with some odd fine print. For example: You can’t actually download 4K movies from iTunes, only stream them.

My friend recently bought an Apple 4K TV. The icons on the home screen look butter smooth on it, as well as the screensavers. But the actual movie experience doesn’t seem to be that much different from watching an HD movie. In order to stream a 4K movie, you need to be downloading in 4K resolution during that timeframe if you’re going to see it in its full strength. It’s not a good experience unless you have blazing fast Internet. You can’t scrub, thumbnails don’t work, and it doesn’t buffer if it doesn’t yet have the full resolution. Instead, it does what Amazon Prime does: it just plays at a lower resolution. What’s the point in having a 4K TV?

I get that with a storage capacity of 32GB or 64GB, you can’t have very many 4K movies downloaded at once on your TV, but Apple should really make this an option. I don’t understand why it doesn’t.

An Editorial Workflow for Composing Hugo Posts  

I took my Jekyll Workflow and modified it for Hugo. The changes were these:

  1. The post type front matter is gone.
  2. The date in the file name is gone.
  3. The date in the front matter has been updated to support the slightly different syntax that Hugo prefers.

I’m writing this post in Editorial, using this Workflow. If you’re using Hugo and want to be able to post micro entries on the go, you should check it out. Feel free to copy, modify, and republish to suit your needs, too!

iPhone 8 Splitgate  

Luke Dormehl, writing at Cult of Mac:

An iPhone 8 Plus owner in Taiwan claims that her new supersized handset from Apple split open while being charged. Local media states that the phone which split open was a 64GB rose gold iPhone 8 Plus. It had reportedly been bought five days earlier by a Ms. Wu.

[…]

While it’s not clear what the cause of these problems may have been, an unconfirmed rumor doing the rounds claims that the iPhone 8 Plus battery is made by Amperex Technology Limited (ATL), the same company which built the battery for the ill-fated Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Back when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was going through this fiasco, I remember Gruber saying, “But for the grace of God, there goes Apple.” Is it now Apple’s hour to face this disaster?

iPhone X Production Delays  

Ben Lovejoy, writing at 9to5Mac:

A supply chain report out of Taiwan claims that Apple is facing significant yield problems with the 3D sensors used in the TrueDepth camera module of the iPhone X. One source says that production volumes for the flagship phone are so low that they are being measured in tens of thousands of units per day.

I’ve got a friend who’s planning on ordering an iPhone X as soon as it comes out, and I keep telling him that he’s not going to see it until January 2018 at the very earliest. Looks like my prediction is holding up nicely so far.

Twitter Continues to Flounder in Uncertainty about What It Is  

Aliza Rosen, writing at the Twitter Blog:

We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming.

[…]

Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English.

I have a very simple solution to this problem. Avoid Twitter’s limitations by writing at your own web. There’s no limit there, nor is there an “emotional attachment to 140 characters” that you “feel.”

The High Sierra Security Vulnerability  

Zack Whittaker, writing at Zero Day:

Just hours before Apple is expected to roll out the new version of its desktop and notebook operating system, macOS High Sierra, a security researcher dropped a zero-day.

Zack quotes Patrick Wardle, this security researcher, as saying this:

“As a passionate Mac user, I’m continually disappointed in the security of macOS,” he said. “I don’t mean that to be taken personally by anybody at Apple – but every time I look at macOS the wrong way something falls over. I felt that users should be aware of the risks that are out there I’m sure sophisticated attackers have similar capabilities.”

“Apple marketing has done a great job convincing people that macOS is secure, and I think that this is rather irresponsible and leads to issues where Mac users are overconfident and thus more vulnerable,” he added.

This vulnerability isn’t unique to High Sierra, so there’s no reason to abstain from the upgrade because of this security concern. But it’s a reminder that just because you’re on a Mac doesn’t mean you’re more secure than you would be if you were using a PC. That might be true with iOS versus Android, but it’s not true in the desktop OS space. I get that it’s a considerably harder problem to solve since macOS gives the user so much more freedom and flexibility, but here’s to hoping Apple fixes this bug and starts offering a bounty program for macOS.

Linkbait Title of the Month: “This Samsung Galaxy S9 Concept Makes the iPhone X Look Rubbish”  

In his piece at Trusted Reviews, Sean Keach fails to back his title’s claim. He even fails to mention the iPhone at all, except for this sound bite:

It’s a very similar design to the one we’ve already seen from Apple’s new iPhone X, although the notch here is a little smaller.

Are we to conclude that this Samsung prototype from a third party makes the iPhone X look like rubbish because of how “very similar” it is? There isn’t even a method to this madness. It’s nonsensical. It’s clickbait, pure and simple.

I wasn’t even going to give this piece the time of day except to point this one thing out: when have you ever seen a headline from an Apple aficionado that resembled this headline’s reversal? This iPhone Concept Makes the Samsung Galaxy S8 Look Rubbish. We just don’t see those kinds of headlines. That should tell you something. People who have to resort to an artist’s prototype to demolish a product that’s actually shipped are defeated and they know it.

The Red Dot  

Matthew Achariam:

We got an unknowing first glimpse at the latest design of the Apple Watch more than two years ago. No less, adorned on the wrist of Tim Cook was a stainless steel watch with a bright red crown cap1. Shortly after, I wholly forgot about this seemingly insignificant revelation—chalking it up to the whimsy of a CEO with unlimited resources at his disposal.

Matthew goes on to talk about the symbolism of this red dot in the world of fashion design. What he doesn’t muse further on is the first thing that popped into my head: what was Tim’s watch capable of? Was its only differentiator the fact that it had this red cap, or did it have features like GPS or even LTE that wouldn’t be announced until much later?

(Via The Loop.)

Marco Exercises  

Marco Arment, explaining why Overcast’s iOS 11 release isn’t yet here:

This summer, I decided I finally needed to devote significant time to health, and since my family always comes first, that mostly came at the expense of reduced work time.

In his footnote:

I’m fine. I just finally realized that the correct amount of exercise for a 35-year-old was probably not zero.

I’m on track to cycle well over 3,000 miles this year and to run 400 miles. Exercising is super important, especially when we spend all day every day in front of our computers. We need to be more open with each other about this as developers. If you’re a developer and you’re not exercising, you should be consciously aware that something’s wrong, that everyone else is doing this thing and you’re not. As a general rule, I recommend planning on spending a minimum of 200 hours per year exercising. That comes out to 4 hours, i.e. 3-6 solid sessions, per week. Sure, that’s 200 hours you won’t be able to write code, but when the year’s over, I promise that you’ll look back and be glad that you exercised.

Facebook Relicenses React Under MIT  

Adam Wolff, writing at Facebook:

Next week, we are going to relicense our open source projects React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license. We’re relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.

Translation: Facebook doesn’t want React to get canned from 28% of the Internet (i.e. WordPress) simply because of its license.

It’s pretty clear to me that in making this change, Facebook’s hoping for Matt to change his mind.1 Assuming the Gutenberg team at Automattic has spent the past week choosing and migrating towards a new framework, Matt’s got a tough decision to make, amplified by his stubbornness. I could see him continuing in his resolve to boycott React simply because of an over-adherence to the adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I’d expect no less from someone who made his company pay $100,000 for a domain whose trademark someone else owned, simply because he disagreed about that person’s approach to licensing. Of course, I hope Matt proves me wrong; I hope he makes a decision that shows he’s grown up some since then.


  1. Even if Matt doesn’t change his mind, at least he’ll look like a poor leader for not changing his mind, and anyone outside the Gutenberg team will no longer have this as a valid reason for boycotting React. Facebook’s relicensing is a win-win for React. No matter what Matt decides at this point, React has the high moral ground. ↩︎

Stack Overflow’s Salary Calculator  

Julia Silge, writing at Stack Overflow:

Today, we launched the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator, a tool that allows developers and employers to find typical salaries based on experience level, location, specific technologies, and education.

This tool is fantastic. If you’re overpaid, be thankful. If you’re underpaid, well, it’s time to make steps to change that.