eXtensions - Friday 2 December 2022


Friday Notes: Musk Reinvents; Annual Apple Awards; Apple Football Rumors; Problems in China

By Graham K. Rogers


Elon Musk made several announcements this week, some involving Apple. Parts of the story changed after a chat with Tim Cook. Apple and others are to be sued following the tragic accident last week in Hingham. Apple announced its annual awards. Apple, Manchester United, Football and the Dutch Eredivisie soccer league: so many rumours. Continuity Camera: Belkin's phone holder is not well received. Ilford releases 120 versions of Kentmere films.

iOS update Apple released an update to iOS 16 late this week (Thursday morning here), bringing this to 16.2.2. This is iPhone only and there is no update for the iPad. This update provides important security updates and the following enhancements for your iPhone:

  • Improved compatibility with wireless carriers
  • Crash Detection optimizations on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models

    Although there is no information about the wireless carrier improvements at this time, Juli Clover (MacRumors) speculates that the Crash Detection changes may be connected to the accidental dialing of emergency services from a roller coaster that has been reported.

    On iDownload Blog, Anthony Bouchard suggests that "Apple is adding support for new wireless carriers around the world and optimizing existing ones, likely with respect to boosting the 5G performance to battery ratio."

    It was a weird week in the world of Elon Musk. With Twitter, things have been in a state of flux for a couple of weeks now, but after the exodus of staff (some pushed, some running), Musk now wants to ask a few back to fill the gaps. I am sure that some will apply. It will be a good line in a résumé and in a job interview: You survived that?

    Musk then began criticising Apple for having reduced the amount of advertising it had placed with Twitter: surely up to Apple and up to the many other companies that had stopped advertising on the platform; but Musk may not think like you and me. This was an attack. It led to the idea that Apple was threatening to remove Twitter from the App Store. I immediately thought this was unlikely, although other similar apps had been removed for the ways in which they allowed hate speech, including the Russian VK app. On the other hand Trump's Truth Social app was not removed from the App Store, although it was not available on Google Play.

    Musk took a breath and lunged at the US government telling the Federal Reserve that it must reduce interest rates immediately (Kim Khan, Seeking Alpha), but then did an about face by visiting Cupertino and taking a walk around Apple Park with Tim Cook. We were then told that "Apple never intended to remove Twitter from the App Store" (Amber Neely, AppleInsider). However that was too late to stop Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis from embarrassing himself. In a remarkable example of double-think, DeSantis says Musk can do what he likes with Twitter (true I guess), but Apple should be investigated if it kicks Twitter off the App Store.

    Apple Campus
    Apple Campus - Image thanks to Brian Triya

    Since his trip to Apple HQ, Musk has announced that the brain chip being developed by his company, Neuralink, is expected to begin human clinical trials in six months. Reuters reports that these chips could help disabled patients to move and communicate again. Neuralink is based in Texas and San Francisco Bay Area and it was with exquisite timing that Janie Har (ABC) reports that Supervisors in San Francisco are to allow remote-controlled robots in emergency situations. No guns will be used, but there is a possibility that these devices could be armed with explosives.

    The potential deployment in SF was despite the poor showing of the robot police dog developed by Boston Dynamics and tested by the New York police Department (Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American). We should all have another look at the Robocop and Terminator series. On the other hand, take a look at the work of Nigel Stanford and how he uses robot technology in music, particularly Automatica: on Apple Music or YouTube

    After the tragic accident at the Apple Store in Hingham, near Boston last week, it was reported in several sources that Tim Cook had visited some of the victims and this was well-received. However, Apple is now among several entities being sued for not doing enough to prevent the accident (Patently Apple) which now seems to have been a genuine accident rather than a deliberate event. Examples given are that they should have installed bollards or barriers in front of the store to prevent such an event. MacDaily News adds to this by linking to a CNN story that confirms there are a number of lawsuits aimed at "property development entities" (which does sound more reasonable) and "one lawsuit filed by a non-employee" that is directed at Apple.

    That is all very well, but Apple may not own the area outside the store and that could be the responsibility of the mall owner, or the city council. There are certainly such measures outside other Apple stores, but the circumstances about who has the responsibility for installation is different in each case. Remember also that even in the best security installations, someone may be able to find a way through. Look at air or rail accidents, even when everything is done following the book, there is still that factor that was never considered when the plane, train, or mall was designed.

    This week Apple announced its annual awards and several sources have provided online information. I saw the comments from Jonny Evans (AppleMust) first in which we were told that Apple had selected 16 apps and games that were out of the ordinary and inspiring. Evans outlines each of these with some comments. The iPhone App of the Year was BeReal, an "authentic social media app". I had a look at the App Store but had already seen this and decided it was not for me. I have other apps that do more of what I want.

    On the other hand, the iPad App of the Year was GoodNotes 5: a digital note-taking app that synchronizes using iCloud across mobile devices. I downloaded this in its basic form. The upgrade to reveal all features was 329 baht and I will hold off until I am sure it will be of value. I already have iA Writer which syncs to the Mac as well, and Notability, as well as Apple's own Notes which I find quite flexible and which (like iA Writer) works with the Mac as well.

    GoodNotes 5

    One of the oddest headlines I have seen in a while appeared on my screen and I just stared at it for a good minute, trying to think of the implications, the Why, and how this might work. It was, Apple eying Manchester United Takeover: Daily Star. As this was a Seeking Alpha article (an investment site), the implications were that money would be involved, but I think it unlikely that Apple would be looking at a single club. Soccer is a fickle mistress and the loss of one of the world's most famous footballers (Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro), with the subsequent sell decision by the Glaser family (US investors) whose tenure at the club had not been one of the finest periods, was the starting point.

    As Apple had recently signed a deal for American Sports and Apple TV +, the Why behind this rumor was probably another such link and Manchester United has a television presence and is known the world over. When I step into a taxi here and the driver interrogation reveals I am British, the probable response will be, David Beckham, Man Yoo, Liverpooool, or Leicester. The latter because of the investment by King Power into the club which was far more successful than another Thai executive's brief ownership of Manchester City. The keys are television and TV rights.

    The price cited is $7 billion, but apart from this and some speculation, the Daily Star article by David Cross has little more than the building of a super stadium and no reason behind the sale. "Because we can" is unlike Apple. Others have also reported and speculated including Jonny Evans (AppleMust) who looks at the possible reasons and how this could be used, particularly with broadcasting, which was my first thought. Evans has a couple of links to Ted Lasso the football-based series that surprised many people and won Apple a lot of prizes, so there is some antecedent history.

    On MacWorld, David Price calls this a "Wacky rumor" and does not think this is going to happen: the club is a target for publicity seekers. However, like Jonny Evans, does mention Ted Lasso and the leverage in broadcasting. Likewise, Oliver Haslam (iMore) thinks this is a non-starter. He points out that the Daily Star, which does not have the best reputation, does not appear to have a source for this Exclusive. Much justified doubt here.

    MacRumors later put the final nail in the coffin, with Joe Rossignol claiming a source in the know says, "Apple is not currently planning to purchase Premier League club Manchester United". The article did mention Apple's recent push into sports TV, but purchasing a single club is not really justified.

    Most sources decided that the purchase of Manchester United by Apple was not going to happen although some financial sites were still querying the idea a few days later. However, to add some fuel to the fire, MacDaily News links to an article from AppleInsider that suggests that Apple is making a bid for streaming rights for the Dutch Eredivisie soccer league. Unlike The Star whose source was not disclosed, Malcolm Owen cites Netherlands sports marketer Chris Woerts who claims that Apple has entered negotiations. For those who are interested in football, this will be good news. There is plenty of other content for me online.

    With all the problems at factories producing iPhones and other products, a team from Apple went to the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou and is working with the management there to address workers' complaints. There is a lot to read into this between the lines of the basic information, particularly in the opening paragraph of the Patently Apple article when confused information and some backtracking are reported.

    As the problems at the factory are linked to other problems including a serious fire that killed several people and considerable public disorder that the Chinese government have tried to hide, the team from Apple and the Foxconn management are going to have to tread lightly to try and bring it under control. I have seen estimates of the losses in production that range from 6m to 20m phones. It is not a surprise to see this having some effect on the share price: earlier down at around $141 from a high of $163 in August; but now up to around $148. Several parties want to see this fixed sooner rather than later, not least the government there.

    When Apple announced the Continuity Camera feature to enhance online conferencing with use of the iPhone, it was clear that a special phone holder would be needed (or a suitable tripod) and as Apple made the announcements it made available an adapter from Belkin that would clip over the top of a MacBook Pro screen. I was a bit annoyed that this was not available here, but I was also not surprised by this: US and favored Apple stores only.

    I am a little less concerned after a report on PetaPixel by David Schloss, that introduces a video in which he tries the Belkin Mount and begins with a recommendation not to buy. It is terrible, he claims. The video opens with some outtakes in which the iPhone drops off the Mac in a number of ways, but in the video he explains (and shows) in much more detail why this is not a good solution for users. Belkin has a good reputation for its accessories and I have a number of their products already.

    It is also unusual for many sites (including PetaPixel) to give such a negative report. As there are alternatives, this is not a disaster, although Belkin may have a rethink. I already tried a small tripod with the Studio Neat, Glif tripod mount for phones, but did not have enough time to set it up properly. Time to try again.

    Studio Neat, Glif tripod mount

    As mentioned in the past, I like taking photographs. I have a selection of digital and film cameras. With film, I prefer black and white and although I use a mix of brands, I use films from Ilford the most. The company has stuck to what it does best and makes no color films, although has branched out into disposable and cheap reusable cameras, all of which come with rolls of black and white film. I have experimented with several film types that Ilford make from the PanF 50 and Ortho 80 up to its Delta 3200. I always return to the SFX 200 which gives me a good contrast and, like all the Ilford 120 films I use handles well in a flatbed scanner. Films from some companies are thin and curl up so need to be made to stay flat.

    120 film 120 film 120 film

    This week, on Instagram, Ilford made a surprise announcement and suggested followers watch for something new on 1.12.22 which confused some of the Americans following. To them it indicates 12 January 2022 which of course has already passed. There were a number of comments - some kind, some less so - that pointed out the USA is almost alone in using this date format and it really is referring to 1 December.

    There was much speculation as to what was coming. When it was announced, it was new 120 versions of Kentmere films - Kentmere Pan 100 and Kentmere Pan 400 - previously only available in 35mm rolls. Although Kentmere does produce some good output, it is a slightly cheaper version of Ilford's other films and this will help some users bring down the (rising) costs of film photography.

    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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