✉️ Double Tap

The macOS, iOS, and iPadOS betas are... good!

Okay, after much internal debate, I now have the latest builds of macOS, iOS, and iPadOS running on most of my machines. And I’m… happy? Happy to confirm that they all seem to be generally stable releases, yes. But more so, they’re also just good.

Sure, there aren’t a ton of new features for any of the releases. It’s more like new coats of paint for each (I include widgets in this category, as they existed before on iOS, they just look better now, and yes, you can put them anywhere) operating system. But they also just feel snappy and fresh. Again, even in the early beta stages. They’re nice. I enjoy using each of them more than I enjoyed using their predecessors.

I should caveat that yes, there are some bugs. Twitter in particular seems problematic on iOS/iPadOS. But these are minor nits. I just don’t want you to upgrade thinking these are fully polished. There’s some work to do, but they feel reasonably close.

By far my favorite feature of iOS is one I thought I might love: Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> Back Tap. Basically, you can set actions which are triggered by double- tapping and/or triple-tapping the back of the iPhone. It’s brilliant. So brilliant that this feels like one of those things that is going to be a standard setting in future iOS releases. The options seem mildly limited, until you realize you can use Shortcuts with it as well to do basically anything.

Personally, I have double-tap set to ‘Speak Screen’ — an old “hack” of mine for reading on the move. And I have triple-tap set to Siri. Yeah, I’ll probably change this to Google Assistant, but I keep holding out hope that Siri will miraculously be better one of these days. See, I couldn’t be fully positive here.


🛍 Microsoft’s “New Approach” to Retail

Which means *quitting* retail and taking a ~$500M write-down

📰 All the News That's Fit To Aggregate

The New York Times pulls out of Apple News

👨🏻 Being Charlie Kaufman

"Studios ruined movies, and that's the truth..."

⚽️ Premier League+

The network/cable and streaming overseas hybrid model

🤳 Don't Tell, Don't Show

The unbearable lightness of using Instagram in quarantine



🔌 Unlimited Power! (But the Opposite)

Apple’s rumored removal of the power brick from iPhone boxes…

📺 And… We’ve Rebundled

YouTube TV now sure looks a lot like cable TV…

📧 Some Thoughts on Hey

as I need to decide whether or not to pay…

👩‍💻 Interpersonal Computing

When Steve Jobs predicted our predicament 30 years ago…

Don't Tell, Don't Show

The unbearable lightness of using Instagram in quarantine

Sarah Frier, writing for Bloomberg, after taking sometime offline and not posting about it on Instagram:

Maybe I was being unnecessarily introspective. But this debate is not mine alone. It's playing out in text messages, Instagram DMs and private Slack channels. Posting on Instagram has always been a self-conscious exercise. We curate the version of ourselves that we want other people to see, trained by an app designed to reward us with followers. Pre-pandemic, Instagrammers were posting aspirational, optimistic, escapist content. Now users are telling me their self-consciousness has shifted to empathy—or is it anxiety?—over the current national crises and the reaction that their posts might spark.

One friend told me she recently went outdoors with a group, but only posted a picture with her partner, so as not to raise concern. Another debated whether to take a mask off for the sake of a picture, or to leave it on to demonstrate proper behavior. Francisco Branco, a resident of Lisbon, Portugal, told me on Twitter that he still posts when he's out, but makes sure to demonstrate proper social distancing, "to remind people that it's necessary to continue to follow the rules."

This resonates with me as well. Whereas it used to be fun and carefree to post on Instagram, I’ve been posting less and less because I worry about the signals each post is sending. Am I enjoying life a little too much in quarantine? While others are sick and dying? Why am I not wearing a mask? Why am I outside?! Etc.

Instead, I now tend to post more to Instagram Stories restricted to “Close Friends” (which I basically just use as a lightweight filter if I’ve ever met or know a person). Those who perhaps know me a bit and are likely to be less judgy.

It’s also worth noting that Frier literally wrote the book on Instagram (I’m in it, from my reporting days). And it’s not like she’s turning against the network. Just pointing out something I think a lot of us are feeling in our complicated new world.

Premier League+

The network/cable and streaming overseas hybrid model

This story by Sean Ingle in The Guardian is a few months old, but I thought this bit was interesting:

The chances of a “Premflix” channel happening in England, where Sky Sports has around six million subscribers and BT Sport close to two million, are slim. But Masters suggested a two-tiered system – with some countries watching games shown by existing TV broadcasters and others streamed directly by the Premier League – was inevitable. “I’m not saying it will happen in the next cycle or when it will happen but eventually the Premier League will move to a mix of direct consumer and media rights sales,” he said. “It is impossible to say when that will be.”

We’ve all been focused on the when-will-it-happen idea of sports leagues going direct to fans, thus bypassing the networks and cable (and perhaps the newer streaming entrants). But the above scenario seems more likely for the foreseeable future: networks/cable handle the games in the home countries while the leagues launch their own streaming products for overseas.

In a way, this is a logical next step of what the leagues do now with the “all access” tiers — allowing people to see all games outside of the ones of their home areas. And those overseas “hack” this access via VPNs. Would make sense for the leagues to formalize this. That is, of course, unless the streaming entrants are willing to pay an arm and a leg for the rights overseas

Being Charlie Kaufman

"Studios ruined movies, and that's the truth..."

Caryn James of The Wall Street Journal sat down with the writer/director Charlie Kaufman (ahead of the release of his first novel, “Antkind” a “705-page comedy about a failed film critic and a destroyed movie”):

Was it easier to get an original screenplay made earlier in your career?

Definitely. Earlier in my career, I could play around and experiment, but the business has changed enormously, and it all happened around 2008 when studios stopped making movies and started making tentpoles. The reason something like Netflix attracts filmmakers is because there’s nowhere else to make those things. It’s infuriating to me when people say Netflix is ruining movies because—no, movies ruined movies, studios ruined movies, and that’s the truth.

For several years, Kaufman was the darling of Hollywood after writing Being John Malkovitch, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Now, it’s hard to see his movies even getting made without Netflix and the other streaming services. Which is a wild swing in just 15-20 years.

All the News That's Fit To Aggregate

The New York Times pulls out of Apple News

Here’s Kellen Browning and Jack Nicas of The New York Times reporting on The New York Times:

The Times is one of the first media organizations to pull out of Apple News. The Times, which has made adding new subscribers a key business goal, said Apple had given it little in the way of direct relationships with readers and little control over the business. It said it hoped to instead drive readers directly to its own website and mobile app so that it could “fund quality journalism.”

“Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, wrote in a memo to employees. “Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

This is not pulling out of Apple News+, the paid tier of the service, this is pulling out of Apple News entirely. Notably, NYT never agreed to be a part of Apple News+ and while the hoopla at the time was about the reported 50/50 revenue split, I thought it seemed to go a bit beyond that:

But wait, while things are better these days for the biggest newspapers, they’re still not as they once were, so they’re really going to leave incremental revenue opportunities on the table? This seems to point to the real key here: the 50/50 split is insulting, but probably surmountable. What’s not is the same issue many of them had with the iPad Newsstand originally: they won’t get any data about subscribers who sign up for the Apple offering.

Apple eventually caved on this for the iPad, but this is different since it is a fully bundled Apple subscription offering, with NYT and the like just a part of the package. You’re buying an Apple service, not a NYT service. But without such information rights, I just don’t see the hold-outs getting on board.

Again, not only did NYT not get on board, they jumped ship entirely for the very reason above.

Still, one has to wonder if they would get back on board if, say, Apple agreed to license their news and pay them directly — something Google has said they will be doing and Facebook is already doing. With Apple News+ apparently struggling, and now Apple News itself having issues, the writing may be on the wall for this — Apple has to keep that inevitable bundle enticing!

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