Apple pumps up its Amazon listings with iPhones, iPads and more – CNET

Amazon has signed a deal to expand the selection of Apple products on its sites worldwide.

The world’s largest e-commerce company said Friday it’ll soon start selling more Apple products directly and have access to Apple’s latest devices, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and Apple Watch Series 4, as well as Apple’s lineup of Beats headphones. The Amazon-Apple deal encompasses the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India, with the new products hitting Amazon sites in the coming weeks.

Only Apple-authorized resellers will now be allowed to sell Apple and Beats products on Amazon’s marketplace.

Currently, many of these Apple products are either unavailable on Amazon or are on sale only through its third-party marketplace at varied prices and conditions. Amazon does already directly sell some Apple devices, such as MacBook laptops and Beats headphones.

This is a good thing. Amazon is full of spurious listings for Apple products. I recently wanted to buy my son AirPods; he’s in Paris, and I’m in the UK, and, since they were cheaper on Amazon.fr, I wanted to buy them there rather than from Apple. I sifted through a dozen listings, from all sorts of third-party sellers, before I could find one that was sold and shipped by Amazon. Many of the reviews for the AirPods spoke of counterfeits, and the only way to be certain was to get them from Amazon.

I hope, however, that Amazon doesn’t prevent people from selling Apple products used. I’ve sold a couple of iPods, and a first-gen Apple pencil on Amazon, and it’s practical to be able to sell there, as it’s often less of a hassle than with eBay.

Source: Apple pumps up its Amazon listings with iPhones, iPads and more – CNET

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 55: Apple Brings Out New Macs and iPads

Apple released new Macs and iPads this week, and Josh and Kirk talk about the new MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and the iPod Pro. We also cover some security news, such as new Mac malware, Apple security updates, and more.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

Apple is tackling a global smartphone industry slowdown by raising iPhone prices, offering new digital services, and wringing more profit from parts that are becoming more commoditized. Selling more storage with iPhones is a powerful example of the latter strategy.

[…]

Ponying up for extra storage could lead iPhone users to spend more in other ways, too. People who’ve become accustomed to having what seems like a bottomless pit in their phones are likelier to cram the devices with more music, apps, movies, and subscriptions, boosting Apple’s services revenue. And Apple is charging anyone who wants an iCloud plan to back up their entire 512GB phone an extra $9.99 a month for 2 terabytes (2,000GB) of remote storage.

It’s really ridiculous that Apple doesn’t increase the basic amount of iCloud storage you get, especially for those who have multiple devices.

Source: Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

It sounds like Apple’s original content is going to be really, really bad – TechCrunch

For Apple’s content business, gratuitous profanity, sex or violence are all verboten as the company tries to thread the needle between being a widely beloved producer of high quality consumer goods and purveyor of paid entertainment to a public that’s increasingly enthralled with blood and gore at its circuses.

It’s not just blood and gore; take a show like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which brought an Emmy award to Amazon. There is a lot of strong language, and, in the pilot, a scene where there are breasts visible. (And the character gets arrested for flashing in the club where she rants on stage.) Even something like that will not pass muster with the Apple censors.

To be fair, this sort of thing clearly crosses a line:

To set the table, The Journal walked readers through some of the issues Tim Cook apparently had with Vital Signs, a title the company had acquired loosely based on the biography of rap legend (and former head of the billion dollar Apple acquisition, Beats) Dr. Dre.

Reportedly, after Cook saw scenes including a mansion orgy, white lines, and drawn guns the Apple chief put the kibosh on the whole production saying it was too violent and not something that Apple can air.

But this is simply ridiculous:

If Apple’s aversion to potentially scandalous storylines is as extreme as The Wall Street Journal article makes it seem — requesting the removal of crucifixes from a set to avoid offending religious sensibilities in an M. Night Shyamalan drama

It’s funny, because some Apple staff have suggested that Apple’s video offerings would be “expensive NBC,” and even NBC has pretty graphic stuff in its police procedurals.

I highlighted this problem back in February, when I wrote:

[…] there’s no reason why excellent TV can’t be family friendly. But in today’s television climate, it’s difficult. West Wing is one of the best series ever on TV (IMHO), and it was a network show. Friday Night Lights was a brilliant series that ran on a network. And Downton Abbey was far from controversial. There are plenty of comedy series that are family friendly. But to push the envelope, there needs to be daring topics, ones that may have some swear words and some tits, and, well, some violence. Black Mirror, House of Cards, Westworld, Homeland, True Detective; all these current and recent series would not pass on US network TV.

But if Apple draws the line at family friendly TV, they will miss out on the next big series; the next Game of Thrones, True Detective, or Breaking Bad. Let’s face it, Reese Witherspoon will not be part of cutting-edge series drama.

I think all these articles miss the point; the reason why Apple is doing this. It all boils down to one thing: China. Apple wants to sell its service around the world, and in the largest market, where the company is stumbling, they can’t afford for it to be blocked. (There are other large countries that might censor risqué content as well, but none with the buying power of China.)

Source: It sounds like Apple’s original content is going to be really, really bad | TechCrunch

Apple Does Remove Stuff from the iTunes Store

There’s recently been a story making the rounds about a guy who found some movies he had purchased had been deleted from his library. It turns out that it was user error; the guy moved to a different country, and it’s well known that not all content is available in all regions (and moving to a different country is actually quite complicated, as far as an iTune Store account is concerned.

But Apple does remove content from the iTunes Store from time to time. They don’t do it on their own; it’s the rights holders who pull it. I’ve found several albums I had purchased in the early days of the iTunes Store are no longer available for redownload.

Not available

And this is much more common with music on Apple Music. I have a playlist of music that iTunes shows as “No Longer Available,” which currently contains 674 items. In some cases, albums have been replaced by updated versions, so I could find some of that music again. But I’ve found this to be quite frequent, even with the eclectic music I listen to.

CoverI came across another such album today: the original cast recording of the musical The Girl from the North Country, based on songs by Bob Dylan. This was recorded last year when this musical was performed in London – to great acclaim – and a new production, with a new cast, is performing it in New York City. This album is therefore no longer available on the iTunes Store or Apple Music in the US. Presumably, if the show is popular enough, they will record a version with the new cast; or, they simply don’t want to confuse people who see the New York version.

To be fair, this is a bit of an edge case, but all the music removed from the iTunes Store and Apple Music is removed because it is edge cases. There are issues with rights that often require that record labels pull music from sale, at least on digital platforms. Interesting, this album, which was released on CD in the US about a year ago, shows a release date of October 5. So perhaps it was pulled and will be available again on the iTunes Store and Apple Music.

This stuff is complicated. The guy with the movies was an edge case; this album is an edge case; they all are. Apple doesn’t do this sort of thing just to mess with people.

(If you get a chance to see this, go. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in the theater. I wish it had been filmed, as many plays are these days in the UK. Like Ian McKellan’s King Lear, one of the best events I’ve seen in the theater, which is being filmed in about ten days in its current London venue.)

Apple’s Measure App and Accuracy

One of the more interesting apps in iOS 12, which Apple released this week, is Measure. It uses augmented reality (AR) to calculate the length, width, and area of items. This is a complex process, which involves having the iPhone or iPad calculate the distance between its camera and the object you are measuring in order to determine the object’s dimensions.

The problem is that it is not very accurate.

I tried measure a number of objects, and two things were apparent. The first is that Measure is not very accurate, and the second is that the same object measured twice can return different dimensions.

Here are some examples:

Measure1

The inside of the frame measures 78 cm x 101cm; the Measure app is off by about 20%.

Measure2

The stool above measures about 38cm x 53cm. The Measure app isn’t that far off, and this would be an acceptable measurement if I were, say, sizing up furniture for my living room, where tolerances don’t need to be precise.

But what is worrisome is the fact that when I’ve measured the same items multiple times, the results differ. Here are two measurements of one of my shakuhachis.

Measure3

Measure4

Ignore Rosalind the Cat; she wanted to see what was going on, but I had completed the measurement before she started checking it out. I took both of these measurements from the same position, with the iPhone at the same height. The shakuhachi is 55cm long; while one might allow for a bit of tolerance because the measure points are not exactly at the ends of the instrument, they do both end up at about the same position on the instrument.

I thought I’d give it another chance today; it’s sunny, and yesterday was a bit overcast. This time it says 57cm.

Measure5

And here’s one last example; I got as close as I could, and it even says on the cover that it’s 21cm x 29.7cm…

IMG 8118

In a Twitter conversation yesterday, some people said they found it very accurate, others not at all (one showed a 38″ MacBook Pro they had measured). I don’t know if this app is better suited for certain types of measurements, such as full rooms and the height of walls, but my tests show that its results are essentially estimates.

The Measure app is a good party toy, but little more, in its current state.

Note that these measures were taken with an iPhone 8+; I’m not sure if it uses the dual cameras, but if so, the parallax of the dual cameras should make it more accurate than a single camera.