eXtensions - Monday 14 October 2019
Cassandra - Monday Review: Apple and China; International Taxation Changes; Catalina Hitches; Eye Reflections and Risk
By Graham K. Rogers
AAPL Share Price Levels
The App Store app buy button still stubbornly remains greyed out. I am left to presume that although other countries have a 7-day ordering window, once again buyers in Thailand are treated differently, with most-favored status going to the phone companies. Apple's own customers (who invariably want unlocked phones) are somewhere down the priority list.
As well as the note about free AppleTV+ for a year, I did notice that there was an option for AppleCare which had previously never been available to users here, partly because of the circumstances under which the first iPhones came here several years ago.
With Apple TV+ now certain to be available here, I was interested to see a report by Michael Potuck (9to5 Mac) who tells us that a follow up to the magnificent Band of Brothers and The Pacific series is to be made. Called Masters of the Air it is apparently about the Eighth Air Force and has a number of the same big names behind the production. In news unrelated to the making of Masters of the Air developers have been warned - Chance Miller (9to5 Mac) reports - not to create content for AppleTV+ that is negative towards China (see below).
Apple TV+ - Image courtesy of Apple
When he was given some time he explained that - to their visible disgust - Apple was doing nothing wrong as it was following the laws as they existed in the countries in which they operated which did allow them to book earnings in different ways.
The USA and the UK (and others) had plenty of opportunities to close these loopholes that the legislators had written into the laws at the behest of business leaders, yet at every opportunity had either backed off or created additional loopholes many of which were created long before the days of international technology companies. A couple of countries, such as France, have come up with legislation that targeted larger companies (many of them in the petrochemicals industry), with annual global sales of over €750 million and revenue over €25 million in France. This was seen as focusing on the tech giants and although the 3% levy was not huge (to an accountant 0.3% is massive of course) the USA criticized the move for singling out US companies: if they earn, they pay. It did start the ball rolling, however.
. . . a separate reform process will come up with minimum corporate tax rates that companies above a certain size must pay, irrespective of the profits or losses they claim to have made within individual countries.
I am all for companies using the laws that the legislators have created. If they are able to reduce liabilities through existing loopholes, they are not breaking the law. I am equally supportive of such solutions that ensure that each company is to be taxed fairly in the country in which it creates its income, which means the income goes to the country where the sales were made.
The Nobel Peace Prize this year was won by Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia. Another one that eluded Donald Trump
Not that I use Adobe software at all, but I am delaying my update to Catalina for a number of other reasons, although all the 32-bit apps I use have either been updated by the developers, or I have found alternatives. Unlike Adobe, I did not wait until the OS was released: I was ready. I use several alternatives to Photoshop and Lightroom. I never felt a need for all the tools available and I did not like the Adobe customer interfacing, with the logins on its site just to update free software (Flash, when we used that) to the subscription service which is something that I always object to (not only Adobe). In my Mac world there are several other alternatives for editing and adjusting images from basic fixes with Apple's Photos to some heavy work with Pixelmator Pro or Affinity Photo, with other editing tools from a number of developers.
On the iPads, as well as Pixelmator Pro and Affinity Photo, I also have a wide selection of apps, such as Darkroom, RAWPower, and Pixelmator Photo, which reminds me of Apple's Aperture. This week I saw that Pixelmator Pro had been updated and noted that this now has support for Sidecar. There are versions on the Mac and the iPad and this now has access to the Photos Library as well as adding a couple of new tools. I also see that there is an update for the Mac version of Waterlogue.
Pixelmator Pro on the Mac
It is also reported by several sites that the second iOS 13.2 beta has been released for developers with some changes, including new emojis and the ability to quickly and easily delete Siri and Dictation history (Evan Sellers, iDownloadBlog). One emoji that has gone is the Taiwan flag in some areas, because of pressure from China and there has also been an on again, off again situation in the App Store with an app that allows users to track protesters and police (Timothy B. Lee, ArsTechnica).
This removal and the lack of the Taiwan flag emoji are being seen by some as Apple kowtowing to China although Cook says the decision "best protects users". It is a big market of course, but the complaint is that Apple used to have principles. The Taiwan flag is still available as an emoji on my iPad Pro. The second iPadOS beta was apparently pulled by Apple as some devices were bricked (UsmanQureshi, iPhone in Canada)
I also tried to interest students in developing a project using the idea, but there were no takers. With a good image, reflections from sunglasses, windows or the eye all have potential to reveal information. It is reported by Jay Peters (The Verge) that in Japan a stalker was able to identify a nearby station and the home address of a pop star there, from the reflections in her eyes in photos on social media. He attacked her, but was subsequently arrested fortunately. As our cameras improve and the software focuses the eyes better, it could be worth considering that a reflection could be used to identify a location and so put some persons at risk.
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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