Sunday, June 28, 2015

What is the NY Times Talking About?

This morning the NY Times published an article entitled "Apple Can Skate by Taylor Swift, but Not Product Missteps."  I challenge you to explain to me what the heck Brian X. Chen is talking about.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

iOS 9 Trick: Request Desktop Site

In iOS 9, press and hold the reload icon in the URL bar to get a "request desktop site" pop-up.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Privaris Patents: U.S. 8,327,152

Among the patents assigned from Privaris to Apple is U.S. 8,327,152, assigned on Oct. 14, 2014. The patent is entitled "System and methods for assignation and use of media content subscription service privileges."

The gist of this patent is that one can use biometrics to authenticate users and allow sharing of digital media based on this authentication. Among other things, this allows sharing of media among authorized users, from one device to another.

For example, here is claim 13:

13. A non-transitory processor-readable medium storing code representing instructions to cause a processor to perform a process, the code comprising code to:
authenticate, at a first personal identification device, a biometric input of a first user based on a biometric template of the first user stored at the first personal identification device, the first personal identification device storing a first certificate having a plurality of subscription privileges associated with the first user;
generate, at the first personal identification device, a second certificate associated with a second user based on the first certificate, the second certificate having at least one subscription privilege from the plurality of subscription privileges associated with the first user; and
send the first certificate and the second certificate from the first personal identification device to a second personal identification device associated with the second user such that the second user is permitted to access media associated with the at least one subscription privilege of the second certificate from a media provider based on the first certificate and the second certificate.

The first limitation after the preamble discusses authenticating, using biometrics, a first user. Presumably this would including something like using Touch ID to log into an iPhone.

The next limitation, discusses creating a certificate for a second user based on information relating to the first user. Conceivably this could include creating a certificate based on Family Sharing, for example. So if a parent uses Touch ID, the parent can generate permissions for a child to receive and use digital media (such as a song from Apple Music, one would imagine).

The final limitation involves sending the information about the authorized user (e.g. the parent) and the second user (e.g. the child) to another device (e.g. a child's iPad) and allowing that other user (the child) to use the media (i.e. play the song).

One could also imagine allowing sharing of media with friends (presumably some sort of time-limited loan) and various other situations.



Apple obtains a biometric patent portfolio

Interesting.  I'll take a look at the patents and report anything interesting.

Source: Apple Obtains Touch ID-Related Patents From Biometric Security Firm Privaris [MacRumors]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

iOS 9 adds "save as .pdf"

Dan Moren noticed that there's a "Save as PDF" feature in the iOS 9 beta.   Yet another reason Apple should take care of my wish-list item and add an iOS version of the Preview .app.   Opening in iBooks is Not Ideal.  (Yes, there are third party apps available in the App Store, but including nice built-in functionality that syncs to the desktop with iCloud would do a lot to make iOS a real workflow competitor to Mac OS, while at the same time simplifying things).

Original story at

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TV Hackers

Today on TV I learned that if you use linux and know the difference between KDE and Gnome you are a hacker.

Nonetheless, show was worth watching.

iOS 9 preview: Spotlight Search

A long, long time ago there used to be an operating system known as PalmOS.  It was used in things like PDAs (smartphones without phones) and, eventually, smartphones.

One great feature of this OS is that it had a built-in global search functionality.  You could search for any term, and not only would built-in programs (what we used to call "apps") be searched, but the contents of third party software would be searched as well.  In other words, if I wrote an app that had access to a bunch of information, I could search from the "home screen" and see results pop up from my own app.

Good times.

It took 8 major OS revisions, but this type of functionality is finally coming to iOS in the upcoming iOS 9.

Monday, June 22, 2015

More Stuff Taylor Swift Should Demand From Apple

Ms. Swift, if you are taking requests, here are some ideas:

  1. Return of the 17" MacBook Pro.  For, you know, um, musicians.
  2. Take the media server functions out of iTunes and put them in a separate daemon. For, you know, um, musicians.
  3. A new modern file system on the Mac. For, you know, um, musicians.
  4. Siri on Mac OS, for, you know... yeah, musicians.
  5. Keyboard mode for Siri, so we singers don't have to strain their vocal cords.
  6. Apple TV update with 4K and apps.  For example, music apps.
  7. Paid updates in the app store. (Throw that in for the developers).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Feature: Why Macs will Get ARM'd - Interstitial 2 - Bitcode

In previous posts, I addressed how Apple's complete ownership of the development stack is moving it inexorably into a position where it is free to do anything it wants with respect to the CPU architecture and instruction set, all transparently to customers and developers.

Some previous entries in this continuing series:

A continuing exploration of the likely future of the Mac:

Part I: Why Apple is Motivated
Part II: Why ARM is a Better Solution for Apple
Why Macs will Get ARM'd - Interstitial 1 - The A8 Datapoint

As I've stated before in various forums, Apple's complete control of the development and distribution stack would enable them to create ARM processors that need not hew completely to the ARM architecture or instruction set.

The vast majority of programmers targeting Apple devices code in either Swift or Objective-C, two languages that Apple essentially controls.  This has allowed Apple to add various language features that it finds beneficial to supporting its products.

Apple also controls the IDE, namely Xcode, which allows it to easily add meta-programming features like storyboard interfaces and the like.

Apple also controls the compiler, LLVM, which is designed to compile the (mostly) human-readable Swift or Objective-C to an Intermediate Representation, and then the Intermediate Representation is turned into the actual assembly language instructions needed for the target device.

Finally, Apple designs its own processors (the A- and S-series) for its watches and phones.

If Apple wants to add some hypothetical new hardware capability, like the ability to treat data streams as fully encrypted up until loaded into the on-chip data cache, and they want to add new instructions to do so, there's nothing stopping them.

Up until now, however, each time they added an instruction set variant to the mix, Xcode was forced to output fatter and fatter binaries, to target each possible device that the code could run on.

Enter the App Store and Bitcode.

For iOS 9, Apple has announced "Slicing."   The general idea is that instead of the developer uploading complete fat binaries containing object code executable on each target device, only the LLVM intermediate representation, or "bitcode," is uploaded to the App Store.  Then, when a customer wants to buy or download an app, Apple's App Store back end provides the appropriate executable, compiled by Apple, for that device.

This is a huge development.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this new capability allows Apple to change its CPU in any manner it wishes, at any time, whether or not the changes are compatible with previously compiled software.  This may also be the first step to the eventual ARM'ification of Mac, as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

iOS 9 - best new feature

Full report coming soon, but so far I'm loving the new CoreSpotlight APIs.  Great to finally be able to search "FRCP 21" and have Spotlight provide a link that opens directly into my app onto the right content...