December 12, 2019

Snippet: The Voice at the Embankment Tube Station ☍

Chris Hannah compiled a Twitter story by John Bull about the Embankment tube station and it’s one of the best things I’ve read in awhile:

She kept asking them where the voice had gone. They weren’t sure what she meant.

The Voice?

The voice, she said. The man who says ‘Mind the Gap’

Don’t worry, the staff at Embankment said. The announcement still happens, but they’ve all been updated. New digital system. New voices. More variety.

The staff asked her if she was okay.

“That voice,” she explained, “was my husband.”

The woman, a GP called Dr Margaret McCollum, explained that her husband was an actor called Oswald Laurence. Oswald had never become famous, but he HAD been the chap who had recorded all the Northern Line announcements back in the seventies.

And Oswald had died in 2007.

Snippet: ‘Link in Bio’ is a Slow Knife ☍

Anil Dash:

We don’t even notice it anymore — “link in bio”. It’s a pithy phrase, usually found on Instagram, which directs an audience to be aware that a pertinent web link can be found on that user’s profile. Its presence is so subtle, and so pervasive, that we barely even noticed it was an attempt to kill the web. […]

But killing off links is a strategy. It may be presented as a cost-saving measure, or as a way of reducing the sharing of untrusted links. But it is a strategy, designed to keep people from the open web, the place where they can control how, and whether, someone makes money off of an audience. The web is where we can make sites that don’t abuse data in the ways that Facebook properties do.

Links take us to places where we can make choices that Instagram never would.

The entire commentary is good, but I’d venture to say that the knife isn’t very slow anymore. As Instagram gains ground on the traditional Facebook platform, it’s later than you think.

Snippet: Apple Card Monthly Installments ☍

Apple has a new option for buying an iPhone with the Apple Card, where the purchase price is split into 24 interest-free payments, treated separate from your general purchases:

Apple Card Monthly Installments are the new, easy way to buy an iPhone and pay over time, with interest-free, low monthly payments. And you get 3% Daily Cash all up front when your iPhone ships or when you buy a new iPhone at an Apple store.

You can use Apple Card Monthly Installments to buy more than one iPhone. Each new iPhone you buy has its own Apple Card Monthly Installments plan. The amount you finance for each iPhone is subtracted from your available Apple Card credit. The number of devices you can buy with Apple Card Monthly Installments is only limited by your available credit.

It’s a great idea as it may allow people to upgrade and not take the hit immediately (there are pros and cons to both), and avoids financing through a carrier. However, the fine print on the main marketing page states:

Available to qualified customers and requires 0% APR, 24-month installment loan with Citizens One or Apple Card Monthly Installments and iPhone activation with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon.

Like the iPhone Upgrade Program, it appears that you have to have postpaid service with one of the big four carriers to be eligible, which seems somewhat counterintuitive. Offer this purchasing option for the SIM-free version, you cowards!

December 5, 2019

Snippet: How Apple Pulled Off Its Epic Snowball Fight ‘Snowbrawl’ Ad ☍

Simon Dumenco for Ad Age:

It was indeed shot with iPhone 11 Pros, but if you’re imagining that the kids in your life can easily film something this awesome-looking in your backyard, well, Apple’s own “making of” video (also below) will quickly disabuse you of that notion. It shows director David Leitch (“Deadpool 2,” “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”) working with a surprisingly large team, including stunt coordinators, to make the short film. Apple’s own description of “Snowbrawl” suggests that you can “Make your holiday videos epic with the highest-quality video in a smartphone, ever” if you buy the latest iPhone, but, well, it’s a little (read: way) more complicated than that.

I love when Apple goes all-in on some sort of creative project. As a company, they don’t need to, but demonstrating that the camera on a phone you may already have in your pocket is good enough for their advertising is way better than sharing specifications. Hiring a Hollywood director and crew to do it is just showing off.

Snippet: Apple Alters Maps and Weather to Show Crimea as a Russian Territory ☍

Chris Welch for The Verge:

When used within Russia, Apple’s Maps and Weather apps now list Crimea as being a Russian territory. The move, reported by BBC News, is the latest example of Apple kowtowing to a government’s demands to keep its devices and services in good standing. The company faced significant criticism in October for removing the Taiwanese flag emoji from the iOS keyboard in Hong Kong.

This latest change stems from Russia’s roundly condemned annexation of Crimea in 2014. It only applies when Crimea is viewed or searched for with Apple Maps inside Russia; elsewhere in the world, Crimea isn’t labeled as Russian territory.

I know I’m a few days behind on this, but I wanted to weigh in—while I understand that Apple has to navigate some weird diplomatic waters with some foreign governments, moves like this feel gross. I’m guessing this is a bit of a rock-and-a-hard-place situation for Apple and they’re trying to comply in those regions as best they can, while still doing what is right outside of those regions.

What happens if everyone using iOS devices in Crimea goes into Maps, tapped on a place/business/etc., and used “Report an Issue” that the item in question is not in Russia?