Show 315 – December 16, 2019
Run Sheet ~ Zarn & Michael
Still again a BIG THANKS to all the firefighters across Australia and all the visiting ones from overseas. THANKS
Our Aussie Apple Ramblings
Canberra launches digital platforms plan of attack
ZDNet reports ~ It will include a review of the Privacy Act and the creation of a dedicated unit within the ACCC to monitor digital platforms.
The federal government has agreed with a determination from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that the country needs to undertake a reform to prepare for the already-here digital age.
The ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry in July made a total of 23 recommendations that covered competition, consumer protection, privacy, and media regulatory reform.
In response, the government has announced the development of a roadmap for a program of work and series of reforms to “promote competition, enhance consumer protection, and support a sustainable Australian media landscape in the digital age”.
In Regulating in the digital age: Government Response and Implementation Roadmap for the Digital Platforms Inquiry, the government said it identified areas for immediate reform, as well as those requiring longer term work.
Items for immediate action, the 19-page document [PDF] says, include the establishment of a special unit in the ACCC that will monitor and report on the state of competition and consumer protection in digital platform markets, take enforcement action as necessary, and undertake inquiries as directed by the Treasurer, starting with the supply of online advertising and ad-tech services.
Siri saves US college student after icy car crash into the Winnebago River
9to5Mac tells us ~ We often hear stories of Apple Watch playing a role in saving someone’s life, but this time it was Siri on iPhone. KIMT News in Iowa tells the story of the student, an 18-year-old who was on his way to classes at North Iowa Area Community College when he hit a patch of ice on the road.
When Gael hit the ice, his Jeep slid off the road and plunged into the Winnebago River. He explains the harrowing experience:
“I turned to the right and from there, everything just went blurry. I didn’t know where I was going and then I just didn’t know what to do. I was just thinking in my head ‘I think I’m going to die,’” he said.
When Gael realised it was in the river, he “quickly rolled down the window” so his Jeep didn’t sink, but he had to figure out a way to contact emergency services as well. That’s when he got the idea to use Siri. He had lost his iPhone in the crash, but he knew it had to be somewhere closely – so he took advantage of “Hey Siri” support.
He said, “I lost my phone and since I couldn’t find it, I was like ‘Hey Siri, call 911.’ And once Siri called, that’s when I found my phone finally.”
Siri was successfully able to reach emergency services, allowing Gael to share his current location and situation with authorities. Once the first responders arrive, the situation was getting worse as water levels increased.
The firefighters on scene told Gael that he had to walk out of the river, as there was no other available option. Gael did just that and was then taken to MercyOne North Iowa Hospital, where he was treated for shock and released a few hours later.
This is one of the more unique stories we’ve heard in regards to an Apple product playing a crucial role for a user. It’s incredibly impressive that Siri was able to respond to Gael’s commands, even as he was stranded in the Winnebago River.
Apple Now Has More Job Openings Than Ever Before
iDrop News is reporting ~ Apple currently has more job openings than it’s had in years, according to new data published this week by research firm Thinknum.
The Cupertino tech giant currently has 5,280 open positions listed on its jobs webpage, the data shows. That’s up from a low of 3,900 last April and 530 more openings than this same time last year, showing growth of 11 percent year-over-year.
But the openings don’t just hint that Apple is still growing. The types of open positions available also show off how Apple has diversified over the years.
Apple has long been a hardware-focused company, first producing computers before moving on to smartphones, tablets and wearables. Now, the company is in the midst of a new shift to a services- and software-heavy business.
As Thinknum points out, Apple is now hiring more Services and Software employees than Hardware ones. But while that change makes sense, it’s also fairly recent.
Back in Q2 2018, Hardware hirings were still the most common. Since then, Software and Services openings have been steadily outpacing Hardware. In the past quarter, the two categories trumped Hardware as far as daily listings by about 9,000 openings, Thinknum reported.
That’s largely in-line with market analyst predictions. Morgan Stanley, for example, expects Services to overtake the iPhone as Apple’s primary revenue growth driver within the next few years.
The data also shows off Apple growing physical footprint. While the majority of openings are still Cupertino-based, there’s an increasing number in cities where Apple is building new offices. That includes Austin, Texas and San Diego, California.
Local hires in San Diego are significant because the area is chipmaker Qualcomm’s backyard. Amid rumors of a first-party Apple smartphone modem, a footprint in the engineering hotbed could help boost Apple’s chip development.
Apple previously promised to create more than 1,000 new jobs in the area and open an engineering facility by the end of the year.
Austin, on the other hand, has long been an assembly hub for Apple. The company recently opened a new campus to join the long-standing manufacturing plants in the city, where Apple produces the Mac Pro.
The Apple Campus is also having a Neighbourhood open day!
Reminder this week we are bought to you by
Microseconds re Mikah Sargent
I was looking for a puzzle game to review this week,
And Apple didn’t let me down I happily stumbled on two gems.
They are both very different.
But fun in their own right. So let’s get started.
This cheeky little droid needs to figure out which is the safest path to help her malfunctioning friends. She must use directional pads, jump pads, among other things to get to her goal.
Over all with a smart mouth and great graphics I give Rosie a 3.5 out of Apples.
Is completely different this puzzler is all about urban planning stopping the congestion of traffic with a very well laid out city structure. Each time you reach a goal you get more help with traffic lights, bridges and bypasses.
I have to admit I liked this one a lot. The graphics are basic which doesn’t take away from the game at all. Building a full functioning city is harder than one would think lol!
But even in my fake city I know I would be paying my public servants right.
Apple launches “Ultimate Rivals” from Bit Fry Game Studios, an all-new sports game franchise available today exclusively on Apple Arcade
Bit Fry Game Studios, Inc., an independent multi-platform developer and publisher of sports video games, is composed of gaming, as well as entertainment and sports veterans, and is the first studio to combine licenses from all player unions as well as four leagues into a single gaming franchise. Bit Fry has secured groundbreaking licensing agreements with nine major professional sports organisations, including the NHL, NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA), NBA, National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), MLB, MLB Players Association (MLBPA), NFLPA, Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), USWNTPA, as well as Wayne Gretzky. The company was founded in 2013 with its first investment coming from former Red Sox owner and vice chairman Les Otten, and now counts among its investors many leading names in sports and gaming, including NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern, Xbox co-creator and managing partner of 1UP Ventures Ed Fries, MLB all-star and World Series champion Ryan Howard, private equity fund Dugout Ventures, co-founding partner of March Capital Gregory Milken, Barclays’ head of Equities Trading for the Americas Todd Sandoz, and BITKRAFT Esports Ventures.
So keep them coming Apple Arcade, we loving it!
Tesla On Autopilot Crashes Into Cop Car Because Driver Was Checking On Dog And It’s Not A Damn Self-Driving Car
Gizmodo reports ~ Just in case you needed a little reminder as to whether or not you lived in a fictional 2019 where we have fully autonomous, self-driving vehicles or the actual 2019 where we have, at best, partially self-driving vehicles that require constant driver attention, this should be a good reminder: Over the weekend, a Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot engaged crashed into the back of both a police car and another vehicle. This is because the 2019 we all live in is not one where we have truly self-driving vehicles on the road. Sorry.
The wreck happened early on Saturday, December 7, near Norwalk, Connecticut. The Tesla Model 3, with a licence plate that helpfully reads “MODEL3,” just so you really know what car it’s bolted to, had its Autopilot system engaged at the time of the crash.
Despite what many, many people seem to think and some frankly confusing terminology on Tesla’s website and marketing materials, Autopilot is not a fully self-driving system.
As Tesla likes to remind us every time this happens, this is how they describe the system’s use themselves:
“Before enabling Autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to “keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times” and to always “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle”. Subsequently, every time the driver engages Autopilot, they are shown a visual reminder to “keep your hands on the wheel”…
Autopilot is intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time.”
Requiring the driver to be ready to take control at a moment’s notice is a defining characteristic of a Level 2 autonomous driving system, which is not autonomous at all, but really more of an advanced driver assist.
That means doing things like “checking on [your] dog” in the back seat while the car is driving at highway speeds is an absolutely idiotic idea, and exactly what this driver did, which is why they weren’t able to take control of the car when it was clear it would be running into the stopped police car and the disabled car in front of the police car.
Keep in mind, this was not a situation that would have confused a human driver: the cars were stopped, with their hazard lights on, along with flares set to warn drivers that the cars were there, immobile. These were hardly hidden cars, and not unusual circumstances in the slightest.
The driver was charged with Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment because if you’re driving a car, you need to be paying attention, dummy, even if your love for Elon Musk and Tesla is so powerful and real that you can just feel it, deep inside you, where music is born.
If you still think that Tesla’s Autopilot system is close enough to being fully self-driving, let’s try an analogy: if you had a chauffeur that was an excellent driver 80 per cent of the time, but, just so you know, was also a narcoleptic and could fall dead asleep without warning at any moment, would you be ok with being driven around by them? I’m not so sure I would.
That’s what’s going on here. Autopilot has no graceful fail-over; if something fails to work like it should, for any number of reasons, it needs a human at the wheel paying attention to take immediate control. The system may not even be aware there’s a problem until way too late—that’s why it needs your practiced, moist, human driver’s eyes watching as well.
Remember, it’s a driving assist system. It’s not self-driving. So pull over to check on your dogs.
If you stop, it’ll be much easier to ask who’s a good boy/girl, too, and you need that information.
Reminder this week we are bought to you by
Apple making first CES appearance in decades, talking privacy with Facebook and others
9to5Mac again ~ Apple is set to make its return to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in less than a month. CES 2020 officially begins on US January 7, and Apple will make a formal appearance at the conference for the first time since 1992 — this time to talk about privacy.
As first spotted by Bloomberg, Apple’s senior director of privacy Jane Horvath will speak at CES during a “Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable.” The CES schedule indicates that this discussion will focus on things like regulation, consumer privacy at scale, and more.
Privacy is now a strategic imperative for all consumer businesses. ‘The future is private’ (Facebook); ‘Privacy is a human right’ (Apple); and ‘a more private web’ (Google). How do companies build privacy at scale? Will regulation be a fragmented patchwork? Most importantly, what do consumers want?
The roundtable will be moderated by Rajeev Chand, head of research at Wing Venture Capital. Privacy executives from Facebook and Procter & Gamble will also be included in the event, as well a commissioner from the Federal Trade Commission.
Erin Egan — VP, Public Policy and Chief Privacy Offer for Policy: Facebook
Jane Horvath — Senior Director, Global Privacy: Apple
Susan Shook — Global Privacy Officer: The Procter & Gamble Company
Rebecca Slaughter — Commissioner: Federal Trade Commission
Apple didn’t have a formal presence at CES last year, but the company strategically placed privacy-focused billboards throughout Las Vegas during the conference. This marks the first time that Apple has formally appeared at CES since 1992, according to Bloomberg.
At CES 2019 earlier this year, Apple privately met with members of the tech press to demonstrate upcoming HomeKit technology. Apple did not have a formal booth or a public presence of any sort, though.
The roundtable will take place at US Tuesday, January 7, at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET. It will be streamed live on the CES website.
Two Tim Cook Stories
Tim Cook is in Japan, meeting app developers aged 13 to 84
Tim Cook is in Japan at present and tweeted about his meeting with local app developers aged 13 and 84.
What a treat to reunite with Masako san and Hikari san, some of our imaginative developers who prove that no matter your age, coding opens up new opportunities to follow your dreams! Wonderful to see you at Apple Omotesando!
Cook had previously met both Omotesando Masako Wakamiya, dubbed the world’s oldest app developer, and Jun Takano, a developer who started working on apps at age 10, at WWDC 2017.
The meetings took place at the Apple Omotesandō store, which opened in 2014 and was remodeled earlier in the year.
There were more meetings with app developers elsewhere.
Cook’s journey continued with a visit to Marunouchi, the country’s largest Apple Store, which opened in September. There he met students from a local primary school.
Apple spoke at the time about the unique design features of the store.
Apple’s fifth store in Tokyo features a unique facade, with two-story vitrine windows made from specially cast aluminium to obtain three-dimensional rounded corners. The first of their kind, the windows allow the vibrant street life of the surrounding area to connect with the store. Inside, native bamboo lines the window openings to bring the outside in. The double-height atrium in the heart of the store connects both levels and is the new home for Today at Apple in Tokyo.
Cook’s agenda included a meeting with singer-songwriter Gen Hoshino, who was the first Japanese DJ on Beats 1.
Cook talks China, antitrust probes, coding in education, more in interview
Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview on Tuesday covered a range of hot-button topics from Apple’s reliance on Chinese labor to ongoing antitrust probes in the U.S. and Europe, while hammering home oft-repeated corporate messages like the importance of user privacy.
Speaking with Nikkei Asian Review during his Japan tour, Cook touted Apple’s track record as a major driver of U.S. economic growth, saying the company created “well over 2 million” jobs domestically. In August, Apple in a press release said it created some 2.4 million jobs spread across suppliers, developers and its own corporate and Apple Store staff.
“The glass on this iPhone is made by Corning in Kentucky. Several of the semiconductors in the iPhone are made in the United States,” Cook told Nikkei. “There’s enormous manufacturing happening in the U.S., just not the assembly of the final product.”
The executive went on to defend Apple’s reliance on Chinese manufacturers and suppliers, a point of contention for some U.S. lawmakers, including President Donald Trump, who believe Apple should shift those duties to U.S. companies.
“The way that we do manufacturing is we look at all countries and look to see what skills are resident in each country, and we pick the best,” Cook said.
During his time in Japan, Cook visited Seiko Advance, an ink supplier whose product is used in iPhone and other devices. Seiko Advance developed ink and an application process to create the high-quality Space Gray, Silver, Midnight Green and Gold hues of iPhone 11 Pro, for example, and has done the same for previous Apple devices.
“They’re the reason that we’re able to put this colour on the iPhone,” he said. “We’ve worked with them for years and we’ve grown together. Both parties enjoy working together, we push each other to innovate more.”
Commenting on smartphone sales, which have slowed over the past couple years in part due to saturation and slow-to-mature growth markets, Cook implied the segment has yet to reach its peak.
“I know of no one who would call a 12-year-old mature,” he said, referencing iPhone’s 12-year history. “Sometimes these steps are humongous, sometimes these steps are smaller. But the key is to always make things better, not just change for change’s sake.”
He added that Apple’s “DNA” has “never been stronger on the innovation front,” saying its product line “has never been stronger.”
On antitrust, Cook took issue with U.S. and European Union investigations into Apple’s business, saying the company does not monopolise any one industry category. Further, Apple is not in the same business as fellow tech companies Facebook and Google, which are also targets of the probe, Cook said.
Apple’s Safari privacy features are driving down prices for advertisers at the cost of accuracy
In the two years since Apple released Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature that keeps websites from tracking users around the web, it looks to have almost totally eliminated the ability for advertisers to market to specific demographics. A new report from The Information dives into how Apple’s offensive against ads has made things more difficult for advertisers while aiming for greater user privacy.
Executives in the online publishing industry speaking with The Information say that Apple has been “stunningly effective” with its goal of Intelligent Tracking Prevention stopping websites from knowing what users are doing on the web. One of the results of this over the last two years is that costs for advertisers have dropped significantly for Safari users while they’ve gone up for Chrome.
The cost of reaching Safari users has fallen over 60% in the past two years, according to data from ad tech firm Rubicon Project. Meanwhile ad prices on Google’s Chrome browser have risen slightly.
While that might sound like a positive thing for advertisers, the reason the price for Safari ads has gone down is that they’re less desirable. Because of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), marketers can’t focus on specific demographics, for example like those in higher-income brackets.
“The allure of a Safari user in an auction has plummeted,” said Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett. “There’s no easy ability to ID a user.”
This has a greater impact in the US than elsewhere since over 50% of mobile browsing happens on Safari. And while users can opt to turn off Intelligent Tracking Prevention, data shows that most don’t.
Only about 9% of Safari users on an iPhone allow outside companies to track where they go on the web, according to Nativo, which sells software for online ad selling. It’s a similar story on desktop, although Safari has only about 13% of the desktop browser market. In comparison, 79% of people who use Google’s Chrome browser allow advertisers to track their browsing habits on mobile devices through cookies. (Nativo doesn’t have historical data so couldn’t say what these percentages were in the past.)
As 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy previously noted, the benefit of allowing cross-site tracking is that you get personalised ads versus more random ones.
On ITP, I’m personally of the view that I don’t mind anonymised tracking. I’m a decisive shopper, so generally it only results in me being shown ads for things I’ve recently bought, but I have nothing against the principle.
Notably, another consequence of Safari’s ITP is that competitors have benefitted.
The challenge of reaching people through cookie-based ads is good news for other internet platforms, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon that can continue to offer targeted ads based on data from their own sites. Facebook, for instance, sells targeted ads that use people’s profile data and activity on the app. Amazon sells targeted ads based on items people look at on the retail site.
As for ad firms, one called Criteo says that it has lost as much as $25 million due to ITP. That was for the fourth quarter of 2017, so it’s possible that loss has increased.
Criteo, a publicly traded ad tech company, said Apple’s introduction of ITP cost it $25 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017, or 9% of the total, excluding the cost of acquiring traffic. A Criteo spokeswoman said that by making the ad-blocking feature automatic in Safari, Apple “does not truly promote choice for the users of its browser.”
However, from another perspective, another executive in the industry thinks marketers need to evolve to target the desired demographics.
“Apple users are more valuable [to advertisers] based on demographics, being higher income, et cetera,” said Jason Kint, CEO of industry trade group Digital Content Next. He argues that Safari users have been “wrongly devalued” in the short term and says marketers just need to find better ways to reach them online.
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