eXtensions - Saturday 20 June 2020


Saturday Notes: WWDC is on Monday so Rumors Abound; WWDC Historical Context; UK Contact Tracing Mess and Lies (Revised - fix spellings and a link)

By Graham K. Rogers


WWDC is on Monday and we are all wondering what Tim Cook is going to bring out of his magic hat. UK contact tracing is a mess and produced another government u-turn this week after a waste of time and much money because some people insisted they knew better than Apple or Google.

There was an update to Pixelmator Photo on Friday to version 1.3 with some additions to the shortcut menus as well as some other improvements to the color selection processes and better batch editing. In an email Pixelmator teased an update to the Mac version of Pixelmator Pro which will add support for automation with AppleScript. The beta for version 1.8 is available for those who want to download it, although with this sort of thing, I prefer to wait. I am intrigued thought with the idea that Apple Script is far from dead. Using that, you can (or could) write an application using scripts, including those that accesses UNIX commands. Roll your own: even I could do that.

Early on Friday I saw news from TechDirt about the contact tracing app for Norway which has given some cause for concern over privacy. This seems to be a problem with many of the apps that governments who go it alone with such apps are facing

API for COVID-19 That of course pales in comparison with the car crash that is ongoing with the UK tracking app, which the government have admitted really isn't working at all The Guardian. They are going to switch to the Apple/Google solution, which they were told was the best way forward months ago; but no, the desire for user data drove them forward and wasted over £100m, as well as creating ethical problems over who they were throwing the money at. Cummings and his friends did not seem to understand the value of that approach and the wasted time also means several who might have been traced may now be dead. So much for data, eugenics and herd immunity.

It was announced by the government that they had been testing the Apple/Google solution alongside the money-loser, but that brought a swift response from Apple (Mike Peterson, AppleInsider). Apple had offered help early on, but that was rejected: Cummings knows better. It is not an app, but an API.

With the recent update to iOS, some of the helper files (API) for the Apple/Google tracking app are already available. They just won't work until someone puts out an app out and users download it. This is also shown on Android devices. On the iPhone, in Settings, Privacy, Health, there is COVID-19 Exposure Logging shown, and this is marked as Off because (as the information shows), You cannot Turn on Exposure Logging without an authorized app installed. And that would have been another problem with the UK Government app as Apple would never have authorized that with the amount of data it was rumored to be sucking up. If you have an Android phone, look under Settings, then Google settings.

In a couple of days time we will know how many of the rumours put out about what Apple will or will not be doing over the next few months are true. I try not to predict as there is a 50-50 chance unless you have real insider information. Some do, but these are few. What happens is that a rumor is started and in the next few days all the tech press and hangers on rehash the same information. The event starts at 10am Monday in Cupertino, which is midnight Monday here. I will read all about it on Tuesday morning over breakfast.

I mentioned last time about the number of rumors that had appeared concerning the suggestion that Apple will finally shift from Intel to ARM processors. Since then, the pressure has increased. More and more, all writing the same rumor as if wishing it into existence. I hope they do. This is similar to the original iPhone, when rumors in the months leading to that 2007 Keynote address that I attended, produced so many rumored depictions of what Apple would release.

One of the things about that original iPhone introduction was that all those rumors allowed Apple to announce that we were to have three separate devices: a wide screen iPod with touch controls; a mobile phone; and an internet communications device. The first two brought wild applause from the audience, while the last was greeted by a sort of polite ripple. Yet it was the internet communication abilities which made the iPhone so strong and changed the world. Of course other manufacturers playing catch-up helped.

In my opinion this was one of the best presentation teases of all time, as those of us in the audience suddenly realized - as the animated slides were projected - that this was not three products but a single, integrated device: "and we're calling it the iPhone". That also brought a laugh as, even in the last days before the introduction, CISCO still owned the iPhone name.

That original CISCO iPhone was an unwieldy desktop device aimed at business that connected to the internet by an Ethernet cable. Steve Jobs sort of strong-armed CISCO and started using the name which is now forever connected with Apple. When I ask my students who originally owned the name, iPhone, they think it is Steve Jobs and are surprised when I mention CISCO and its device which was originally produced by InfoGear, a company that CISCO bought along with the name.

Apple Watch - image courtesy of Apple I am often critical of Wall Street and analysts, but a report on Patently Apple takes the biscuit. Tim Cook spoke at the last financial report about the growth in sales of wearables, which includes the Apple Watch. Strategy Analytics confirmed this growth with figures showing around 22% growth. However, Canalys is reporting a significant drop in market share for the Apple Watch while Huawei shows growth of 113% annual growth. As they had been lagging somewhat, Patently Apple says this indicates a "miraculous quarter", although this had not been noticed by Strategy Analytics.

Patently Apple adds, "Canalys did note that Apple increased watchOS market share by 4 million bringing their installed base to 70 million," leaving a question as to how Apple shipped fewer watches but gained users.

I managed to persuade a friend last week not to buy a new Mac. This is actually the second time that he has asked me, but when he made the purchase last time (about six years ago), new iMacs were announced within a few days. This had not been predictable and I was a little embarrassed about this, although I had warned him that sometimes this happens. That iMac was to replace a plastic bodied G5 that he still has. It had an interesting history because before he bought it it was owned by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who lived in Bangkok at the time.

The replacement of his Intel-powered iMac is of course well overdue. It still works well, although his 12 year old son is now heavily into coding and graphics for games. After he asked me to help buy and then set up the new machine, I had cold feet. As there are strong rumors about new iMacs - iMacs and ARM Macs - it seems a fair bet that if he bought the new iMac, within days it could be out of date. I set out the case to him, his wife and to number one son who will be the main user, and they agreed with my suggestion to postpone the purchase, even if this could be a month or more before the devices start arriving here.

While checking prices and delivery, I noticed that between the times I looked at the online store, the Apple Store in Icon Siam had opened: one day, marked as not available, the next time, collect the following day. That is shown in a lot of Apple stores worldwide that are now known to be open (Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider).

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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