Apple Holding Event on September 7 ➝

I’m excited about this one. We’re almost certainly seeing new iPhones, but I’m not sure what else Apple has planned. The rumors have been a little erratic. We could see a new Watch, Macs, or something else entirely.

Markdown Comes to Simplenote ➝

From the Simplenote weblog:

Today we’re excited to announce that Markdown support has been added to the latest update of Simplenote for iOS.

To enable Markdown for a note, just tap on the ‘Markdown’ button in the note info panel. You can then swipe on the note editor to view the Markdown preview. Once you’ve enabled Markdown for a note, all new notes you create in the future will have it enabled by default. We hope you enjoy this handy new feature!

I’ve been using Simplenote ever since I moved away from Vesper last year. It’s a great app, but unfortunately, this new Markdown support is far from robust. There’s no inline previews or shortcuts to help with the syntax, which I would consider to be essential features. I’ll continue using Simplenote as my notes app of choice, but I’ll keep my Markdown writing in Ulysses.

The Age of the Dramatic Apple Event Reveal Is Over ➝

Jason Snell, writing for iMore:

Increasingly, it feels like the era of event surprise and delight is over. Delight can still exist, of course, but it’s becoming increasingly impossible for Apple to surprise. All the new hardware — even entirely new stuff like the Apple Watch — is rumored months before it arrives, often in exacting detail. New software, also rumored in detail before it’s announced, can be running on your devices in the days or weeks after that announcement.

But you know what? I think I might be okay with things being a bit less dramatic.

There’s a part of me that misses the dramatic hardware reveals from the mid-2000s. But as long as Apple continues to produce great products, I’ll be fine with it.

Spiteful Spotify ➝

Lucas Shaw and Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Spotify has been retaliating against musicians who introduce new material exclusively on rival Apple Music by making their songs harder to find, according to people familiar with the strategy. Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won’t be able to get their tracks on featured playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people, who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn’t alter search rankings.

Sure, Spotify, punish the artists who have already buddied-up with your biggest competitor. That’ll certainly have them crawling back. Except, many of them have been complaining about how much they earn from you for years.

‘Apple Could Use Custom x86 SoC Made by AMD’ ➝

Gian Maria Forni, writing for Bits and Chips:

According to our sources, Apple is pondering about using custom x86 CPUs in its next iMacs and MacBooks, during 2017-2018. Nowadays it’s hard to avoid the use of x86 ISA in high end and professional personal computers, but at the same time Intel CPUs are too expensive if we compare these with ARM SoCs.

So, Apple’s target is to realize a complete x86 custom SoC family, like Sony and Microsoft did with their consoles. AMD is the perfect partner to do this.

This rumor was published back in October of last year, but John Gruber linked to it a couple of days ago.

There’s a lot of interesting things happening in the world of CPUs. Intel licensing ARM technology and attempting to take over the manufacturing of Apple’s A-series processors, the massive gap between Mac hardware iterations which was at least partly due to delays in Intel’s latest generation of CPUs, and the aforelinked rumor that Apple might be working with AMD on custom x86 SoCs. To name a few.

This is exactly the kind of rumors I enjoy, though. It hearkens back to the early days of my technology enthusiasm, when AMD was first to market with 64-bit and dual-core processors. And, perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I have a strange feeling that we’ll be learning more about all this within the next six months.

Intel Aims to Challenge TSMC Over Apple Chip Orders By 2018 ➝

Cheng Ting-Fang, reporting for Nikkei Asian Review:

Intel’s recent pledge to expand its business making chips for others highlights its ambition to snatch chip orders for Apple’s popular iPhones from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as early as 2018, industry experts said.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue, announced earlier this month that it will license technology from British mobile chip designer ARM with the aim of securing more business from smartphone companies. LG Electronics will become the first smartphone company to adopt Intel chips following the ARM deal.

If Intel wants to become the premier ARM processor manufacturer, Apple is the customer they need to have.

Watching Apple’s Music Festival Will Now Require a Subscription ➝

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

The 1975, Alicia Keys, OneRepublic, Calvin Harris, Robbie Williams, Bastille, Britney Spears, Michael Bublé, and Chance The Rapper will all participate in the Apple Music Festival this year, and there’s bound to be some impressive warmup acts helping them out. Apple is planning to live stream all of the 10 performances, but this year you’ll need an Apple Music subscription to watch them online.

I’ve never had much interest in Apple’s music festivals. I don’t care for the majority of popular music and Apple has never booked bands that I wanted to see perform. But the subscription requirement is just another hurdle preventing me from ever watching the event.

Instapaper Is Joining Pinterest ➝

From the Instapaper weblog:

Today, we’re excited to announce that Instapaper is joining Pinterest. […]

For you, the Instapaper end user and customer, nothing changes. The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco, and we’ll continue to make Instapaper a great place to save and read articles.

Instapaper CEO Brian Donohue insists that there are no plans to shutdown or materially change the service in the short- or long-term. But you can never be too sure. If you rely on Instapaper, it would be wise to find an alternative that you can switch to if things ever start to go south.

Finding Compatible USB-C Accessories Is a Crapshoot ➝

Andrew Freedman, writing for Laptop Mag:

USB Type-C is great. It’s the future. I want vendors to pick it up even more rapidly than they have. But for the new standard to meet its potential, everything you want to plug into it has to work, no matter what company’s computer or phone you’re buying. If you’re buying something with a driver to deliver data, you’ll probably be fine, but the promise is that everything — everything — will work out of the box. That’s not the case yet. Hopefully, it will be one day

This sounds like a miserable experience.

Amazon Wants to Sell an Echo-Only Music Service ➝

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Amazon wants to launch a music subscription service that would work the same way services from Apple, Spotify and many others work: $10 a month, for all the music you can stream, anywhere you want to stream it.

But Amazon is also working on a second service that would differ in two significant ways from industry rivals: It would cost half the price, and it would only work on Amazon’s Echo hardware.

Would anyone actually subscribe to this?

Daniel Jalkut on ‘the Apple’ ➝

Daniel Jalkut, on Apple’s decision to drop the word “Store” from their retail branding, in comparison to other retail stores like Tiffany and Gucci:

The difference between these brands and Apple is that Apple’s identity has long been independent from the notion of a store. Calling it the “Apple Store” was not only important because the stores were a novelty, but because Apple is a brand that transcends retail.

I suppose this is the biggest problem with Apple dropping the word “store” — it devalues the Apple brand. It doesn’t matter how high-end their retail presence is, no brick-and-mortar store could ever be as prestigious as Apple itself. And the retail branding should reflect this. The store is just a small part of the bigger whole not the entire focus of the company.

We Shouldn’t Want Twitter to Handle Harassment Like Olympics Takedowns ➝

Speaking of Twitter, Adi Robertson wrote a great piece discussing the comparison of Olympic takedowns to the handling of harassment on the social network:

Twitter could absolutely do more to mitigate harassment, but likening it to people posting Olympics GIFs won’t give us good solutions. And in the end, it makes the problem of abuse seem simpler than it is. “Is this video of the Olympics?” is a far easier question to answer than “is this harassment?” Likewise, no matter how stringent it is, takedowns wouldn’t actually stop people from seeing torrents of threats in the first place — copyright owners themselves hate the endless, whack-a-mole nature of the system. Twitter’s anti-harassment battle is a crisis of identity for the platform, and it’s fighting an enemy that’s far uglier and more insidious than some clever IOC-rules-flouting meme-crafters. We can point out its losses without legitimizing one bad system in the name of criticizing another.

Twitter Introduces Quality Filter to All Users ➝

Emil Leong, writing on Twitter’s weblog:

Last year we began testing a quality filter setting and we’re now rolling out a feature for everyone. When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior. Turning it on filters lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience.

I think this is a great change overall, but I still have concerns. My biggest fears are algorithmic false positives and employees of Twitter having the ability to flag accounts manually — potentially silencing users for dubious reasons. I have no indication that this will actually happen, but you can never be too sure about a feature like this.

Function Strip ➝

Dr. Drang, on the rumored touch-sensitive OLED strip on the next MacBook Pro:

But there is this nagging thought in the back of my head. Can Apple pull this off? Does it still have the UX chops to figure out the right way to implement what could be a very powerful addition to the Mac? So much of what’s good about Apple products, both hardware and software, seems to be based on wise, user-centric decisions made years ago. Can it still make those decisions? […]

On the other hand, the story of watchOS 3 is an indication that Apple still has the goods, that it can still make good decisions, even if it means reversing much-hyped earlier decisions. That’s the Apple I hope to see in the new MacBook Pro.

Auto-Expanding Email Address ➝

Great tip from Jason Snell:

We get asked for our email addresses a lot, most commonly in login windows on websites. I’ve saved a lot of time by attaching mine to an auto-expanding text shortcut on both iOS and macOS. No additional software is required, though if you have a text-expanding utility like TextExpander you could use that instead.

I set this up with Nick Heer’s suggested shortcut of “@@” because of its placement on iOS’s email address keyboard.

10K Apart ➝

A great contest from Microsoft and An Event Apart:

With so much of an emphasis on front-end frameworks and JavaScript runtimes, it’s time to get back to basics—back to optimizing every little byte like your life depends on it and ensuring your site can work, no matter what. The Challenge? Build a compelling web experience that can be delivered in 10kB and works without JavaScript.

I wouldn’t mind this sparking a trend in web design — the world needs smaller web pages.

(Via Matt Birchler.)

Apple Drops ‘Store’ From Apple Store Branding ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

It’s a change that appears to have started rolling out with the launch of the newer Apple Stores, like the Union Square location in San Francisco. Apple has always referred to that store as just Apple Union Square, and over the course of the last few days, the company has updated all of its retail store webpages to remove the “Store” branding. What was once “Apple Store, Fifth Avenue,” for example, is now just “Apple Fifth Avenue.”

This seems to fall in line with Apple’s online store overhaul that took place around this time last year. I don’t think Apple wants to emphasize the shopping aspect in their branding anymore, instead focusing on helping customers learn about the products.

Intel Licenses ARM Technology ➝

Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

Intel Corp., the world’s biggest semiconductor maker, said it’s licensing technology from rival ARM Holdings Plc, a move to win more customers for its business that manufactures chips for other companies.

The two chipmakers, whose designs and technology dominate in computing and mobile, unveiled the agreement Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The accord will let Intel offer third-party semiconductor companies its most advanced 10-nanometer production lines for manufacturing the complex chips usually used in smartphones.

This piece doesn’t come right out and say it, but it sounds like Intel is planning to design their own ARM processors in addition to manufacturing other companies’ chip designs. If that’s the case, I could see Intel becoming the premier maker of ARM processors within just a few years.

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Planning 10.5-Inch iPad Pro ➝

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

According to Kuo, Apple is aiming to introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro model next year to go along with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and a “low-cost” 9.7-inch iPad model. Kuo makes no mention about the fate of the current 7.9-inch iPad mini, although many have assumed that model may be phased out as the recent 5.5-inch iPhone “Plus” models have helped lessen demand for Apple’s smallest tablet.

John Gruber thinks we’ll see a new aspect ratio for the iPad — because of how close the 9.7-inch size is to this rumored 10.5-inch device. But I’m not so sure. Apple currently sells the 11.6-inch MacBook Air alongside the 12-inch MacBook. Both of them feature the same aspect ratio — why would the iPad be any different?

Update: Apologies for the oversight, Ravi Gupta points out, on Twitter, that the 11.6-inch Air and the 12-inch MacBook do have different aspect ratios. Sounds like Gruber might be right after all.

Apple’s New TV Plan Is a TV Guide ➝

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Apple has started talking to TV programmers and other video companies about creating a digital TV guide that would work on both Apple TV boxes and other Apple devices, like iPhones.

The idea is to let users see what kind of programming is available in video apps made by the likes of HBO, Netflix and ESPN, without having to open up each app individually, and to play shows and movies with a single click.

I would love an interface like this.