Apple’s ‘Warrant Canary’ Disappears

The wording in Apple’s privacy reports that Cory Doctorow identified as a “warrant canary” has not been included in Apple’s two most recent transparency reports. This suggests that Apple may have received an order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Trade-ins of Samsung Phones Tripled

Tom Higgins, writing for Bloomberg:

When Apple’s main product, featuring bigger displays and faster chips, goes on sale starting in Australia, they may be best remembered as the generation of iPhones that won over consumers from rival smartphones.

He spoke with Chris Sullivan, CEO of Gazelle, who said that they were receiving a lot more Android devices as trades-ins this year than they did last year during the lead up to the iPhone 5s and 5c release.

Transmit Now Available for iOS

A great looking app with some great features. And, take a look at that gorgeous icon. I can’t wait to spend some time with it.

Your iPhone Can Ditch Google For DuckDuckGo

I’ve dipped my toe in the DuckDuckGo waters before. But, without the ability to make it my default search engine in iOS it never stuck for very long. iOS 8 adds DuckDuckGo to the list of search engine options in iOS. I’m switching the default search engine on all of my devices and plan on trying it out for a few weeks. I wouldn’t mind a little less Google in my life.

Move Content From Your Android Phone to iPhone

I think these larger iPhones are going to be very popular with Android users. And, it seems that Apple thinks they will be too. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing die-hard Android users waiting in line at the Apple Store.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps from the App Store

The Next Web received the following statement from Apple:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

HealthKit is a major new feature in iOS 8. I hope they get this fixed before everyone relegates the Health app to the “Default” folder on their last home screen.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Tim Cook on Apple’s Commitment to Privacy

There aren’t many companies that would publish this sort of letter to their users. It’s straightforward and easy to read — its written as if they hope every one of their customers reads it.

I especially like this bit:

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

A very simple line in the sand about user privacy. This is why I enjoy buying Apple products so much — I want companies that make commitments like this to be very successful.

Microsoft Announces ‘Windows 9’ Event

When was the last time that Microsoft announced a version of Windows that people were excited about? Longhorn in 2003-ish?

My Year with a Distraction-Free iPhone

Jake Knapp:

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole world wide web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

He decided to disable and uninstall many of the apps that we iPhone users consider to be essential to our daily lives. I could see myself trying this in 2007, but I know now that I wouldn’t be able to stick with it for as long as Jake has.

Consider Holding Off on iCloud Drive Upgrade in iOS 8

Caitlin McGarry, writing for Macworld:

If you’re upgrading to iOS 8 on Wednesday, you must resist the urge to upgrade to iCloud Drive if you want to continue to sync your phone to your Mac. Why? Well, iCloud Drive only works with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. And you all know which OS we’re still waiting on[…] You can go back and upgrade at any time, but unless you want a file-syncing nightmare on your hands, you’ll wait for Yosemite’s official release.

If you make use of iCloud to sync applications or data between an iOS device and a mac, I would suggest skipping the upgrade to iCloud drive until you install Yosemite on your mac next month.

Part Two of Charlie Rose’s Interview with Tim Cook

Covering privacy, U2, human rights, and more.

Amazon Cuts Price on Fire Phone

I remember when another company cut the price on their phone just a few months after its release. People were pretty upset about it. I don’t hear the same outcry about the Fire Phone price cut, though. I think they should give $100 gift cards to anyone who purchased the Fire Phone at the higher price.

Anger Over Songs of Innocence

Marco Arment, on the recent U2 promotion on iTunes:

The right way for Apple to do a big U2 promotional deal like this would have been to simply make the album free on the iTunes Store for a while and promote the hell out of that.

If you’d like to remove the U2 album from your iTunes account, Apple has published a technical note detailing how to do so.

I’ve turned off the “Show All Music” setting on all of my devices (from within the Settings app, under Music), so I haven’t been annoyed by the existence of the U2 album. I can imagine being very irritated if music I didn’t want started showing up on my iPhone without asking me, though.

Apple screwed up on this, they shouldn’t have pushed music (or anything for that matter) onto people’s devices. Forcing your users to opt-out is always the wrong decision. Especially when many of your users don’t know how to hide music purchases or music stored exclusively in iCloud.

The Mystery of Apple Watch’s Battery Life

Tim Cook, when asked by Brian X. Chen why he skipped over the watch’s battery life:

I don’t think we skipped over it. I addressed it in the presentation myself. We think that based on our experience of wearing these that the usage of them will be really significant throughout the day. So we think you’ll want to charge them every night, similar to what a lot of people do with their phone.

Looks like battery life will be about a day. Not too surprising given that they didn’t mention battery life on stage and its right around what I’ve seen others guessing before Brian X. Chen’s piece was published. I understand that Apple is fighting against physics with this thing — you can’t put a bigger battery in a device that small. But, the Apple Watch has to be magnificently useful if they expect people to get in the habit of charging a second device every night.

The Magic Prefix Departed with Steve

Aaron Mahnke’s theory on the “i” prefix:

Well, I have a theory about that, and if I’m right, we will never see another iProduct again. I believe that every new product that was released during the time that Steve Jobs was at the helm of the company had a chance at gaining that famous prefix. Not all of them got it, but the big ones did. Those were the ones that needed a publicly recognizable name that pointed back to Apple without having to say so. They were the products that were sure to take off, gain traction in the public mind, and cross the lips of the average consumer. And they were all products that found their origin (at least to some degree) in the mind of the Wizard himself: Steve Jobs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see another product with an i-prefixed name from Apple again. As if the folks at Apple all believe that only Steve had the authority to bestow a product with an i-prefixed name.

Transmit Coming to iOS 8

Federico Viticci previews Panic’s Transmit for iPhone. The app looks tastefully designed and makes great use of iOS 8’s extensible share sheet and Touch ID. I’ve used Transmit for years and am excited that it’s finally making its way to the iPhone.

Part One of Charlie Rose’s Interview with Tim Cook

Apple Watch, the Beats acquisition, partnering with IBM, and more are discussed in this first of two parts of the interview. Tim had a difficult time when he was asked who Apple’s competitors are — Google was the only company he could came up with. And even when Charlie Rose suggested Samsung and Amazon, Tim didn’t seem nearly as interested in them as he was in Google. It’s very clear who Apple has in its crosshairs, everyone else is secondary.

The Unstoppable TI-84 Plus

A calculator whose MSRP hasn’t changed from its current price of $150 since its release a decade ago. I guess its perfectly fine to let your product languish when you have a near-monopoly on high school math classes.

A Tale of Two Restores

I have a few people in my life that own 16GB iPhones and they are constantly running out of storage space. John Moltz was able to save 6-7GB of storage space on his wife’s iPhone and about 3GB on his own by performing a restore in iTunes and then restoring the most recent backup.

I’m not sure if I’ll suggest this to others — I’m always concerned that someone might make a mistake in the process and end up losing data. But, this is something I’d like to try on my and my girlfriend’s iPhone. It’s worth a shot and has to be better than continuing to delete music in order to make room for new photos and apps.

The Future of 4-inch iPhones

Dr. Drang, writing six days before the Apple event on Tuesday:

So if there’s no new 4″ iPhone, doesn’t that mean Apple’s giving up on that size? Maybe not.

In moving to a 64-bit processor last year, Apple made a jump in technical specifications that Samsung and HTC still haven’t caught up with. Maybe Apple believes that this head start, combined with a decreasing demand for smaller phones, will allow it to shift to a two-year update cycle for smaller iPhones. In which case, we won’t see a new 4″ phone this year, but we will see one in 2015.

I didn’t get around to reading this until after Apple’s event, and it was a bit of a revelation for me. It doesn’t entirely make sense for Apple to abandon a screen size that has been so successful for them, and there’s plenty of people that are genuinely upset about the larger iPhones being the only new models.

I find the idea of Apple skipping a 4-inch iPhone update this year and returning to it next year to be a very realistic concept (and something I’m willing to champion because it better suits my interest in a 4-inch device). Once the iPod lineup had matured there were certainly years in which an iPod model was skipped over one year only to have a new version released the following year.

As Dr. Drang points out, there are patterns that Apple’s product schedule typically adhere to. But, that’s never stopped them from doing what it thinks is best. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Life goes on. I’ll simply begrudgingly settle on the 4.7-inch model that Apple releases next year.

The Best Podcast Apps for iPhone

Great examination by Robert McGinley Myers of many of the podcasting apps available for iOS. I’ve used most of these apps for differing lengths of time over the past couple of years. My current favorite is Marco Arment’s Overcast and before it’s release I was using Castro by Supertop.

Apple Pay

Sandwiched in-between the two hardware announcements that Apple made on Tuesday they spent some time talking about a new service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a new payment option that uses NFC built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to make purchases in retail stores and iOS applications that make use of new APIs in iOS 8.

Apple took a different approach than most other companies have when they built Apple Pay. It doesn’t seem focused on making the company money, but instead is focused on creating a better user experience. Security and usability are the two key points that Eddy Cue emphasized during his presentation on stage. And with Target’s credit card fiasco still fresh in everyone’s mind and news of Home Depot’s recent credit card breach, this announcement coincidentally comes at a time when everyone is thinking more seriously about security in regards to their credit and debit cards.

When you setup Apple Pay on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you’ll be given the option to add your credit card that you already have on file for iTunes. If you’d like to add new cards the application prompts you to take a picture of your card from within the app, Apple then verifies that the card is yours, and adds it to Passbook as an Apple Pay option.

From a security standpoint, your iPhone doesn’t actually save your card information, instead saving device-specific account numbers and creating one-time card numbers and security codes each time you make a purchase. If you’re iPhone is lost or stolen you’ll be able to suspend payments on the device with Find My iPhone. And there’s no need to cancel your credit card, because the phone doesn’t save your actual account information.

I consider Apple Pay to be the most thoughtfully designed payment service available. It’s highly secure, easy to use, and simple to manage. But, I’m not sold on the whole “pay with your device” concept and never have been.

I’ve worked in retail for six years and can assure you that digging a credit card out of your purse or wallet isn’t going to take any longer than digging your phone out of your purse or pocket. The video that Tim Cook played on stage of a women at the cash register was a gross exaggeration of how long it takes to pay with a credit card. Many people will perceive Apple Pay as a quicker option at checkout than paying with their credit card. But, if you have your card ready when you get to the cashier, it’s just as quick to swipe your card and hit the green button as it would be to hold your iPhone up to the scanner with your thumb on the home button.

I loved what Eddy Cue said on stage about privacy, though:

So when you go to a physical location and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank. And the cashier doesn’t get to see your name, credit card number, or security code, like they do today when you hand them a plastic card.

I’m a little concerned about that “when you go to a physical location” qualifier but this is definitely reassuring to anyone who was worried about privacy with Apple Pay. “We are not in the business of collecting your data” is a pretty good concept to pitch in a world where nearly every other tech company is in the business of collecting your data.

I joked on Twitter during the keynote that “now my credit card has a battery life.” Which was obviously said in jest but could actually be a concern for Apple Pay users. An early morning rise into a late night out with friends could become problematic when you go to buy another drink and your iPhone’s battery is dead. This can’t be the only form of payment you carry with you for this very reason.

I think Apple Pay will succeed — a lot of people are excited about it and it is more thoughtfully executed than any other competing solution on the market. But, I’m going to give it two or three years before I decide whether or not its something I’d want to use myself. Until then I’ll stick with my trusty debit card and the occasional few paper bills that end up in my wallet from time to time.

AT&T Plans to Offer Wi-Fi Calling in 2015

I didn’t expect to see AT&T on board with Wi-Fi calling so quickly — it seemed more like a T-Mobile-type of feature to me. But, I suppose my assumption was misguided. And, now we wait for the rest of the major carriers to announce support of it.

‘Record Number’ of iPhone Pre-orders

Ina Fried writing for Re/code:

Demand for the new iPhones is higher than that seen in either of the past two years, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told Re/code.

Not all that surprising given the response I’ve seen anecdotally around the web.

Apple Discontinues iPod classic

MacStories’ Graham Spencer points out that Apple has finally discontinued the iPod classic. There have been rumors of it’s demise for years and Apple has finally decided to pull the plug.

There was a time where having every song you own in your pocket was ground breaking. Now we have devices that hold most of our collections and have an internet connection that gives us access to streaming services with music that we may have never heard otherwise.

Part of me really misses owning everything — dealing with the occasional internet outage is more than a little irritating now — but I know I’m listening to more music than I ever have before.