February 2, 2023

News: Apple Reports Q1 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2023 first quarter ended December 31, 2022. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $117.2 billion, down 5 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.88…

Snippet: The Practicality of Art in Software ☍

Federico Viticci:

In bringing this back to software, it’s evident that – again, historically – Apple doesn’t believe in art as a veneer to make something “look good”. Art – whereby “art” we refer to the human care behind the design of software – is intrinsically tied to the technology that powers the computer. It’s the intersection of technology and liberal arts: skew toward one side more than the other, and you risk of losing the balance many of us like about Apple. Art in Apple’s software isn’t some secret ingredient that can just be added at the end of the process, like a spice: great design is the process itself. Case in point: the Dynamic Island.

The entire post is worth reading, especially in the context of many Apple fans holding the company to a high standard when it comes to design and functionality. I think it also mirrors the concerns I’ve seen in academia where the focus has moved to just STEM, cutting the arts as they’re seen as a money pit (even small programs that might be geared towards electives). The two need to work hand-in-hand to create well-rounded experiences and I think Apple generally balances it well, but should be criticized when it doesn’t.

Snippet: Twitter to Begin Charging for API Access ☍

I’ve mentally moved on from Twitter (personal and the accounts for this site are basically just redirects to other places), but this is an important one for much of the Internet—free API access is going away on February 9. The major change on short notice from the Twitter Dev account:

Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead.

Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week.

Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us.

We’ll be back with more details on what you can expect next week.

There’s no other information with *checks notes* only a week to go. Although third-party clients have been gone for awhile, this will most likely kill automated posting tools. That’s been used for years on this site and it’s just not worth the money to pay for API access. It’s also a pretty bold move for Twitter to think that publications, especially smaller ones, should pay to generate content for their site even if it ultimately brings eyeballs to the destination sites. In addition to that, tools that allow you to delete your tweets or create things outside of simple posting will also go away. If I ran an app or service that used Log in with Twitter, I’d also start thinking about moving away from it. With the way Twitter has treated everyone lately, I don’t think many will want to “continue to build with” them.

I’ve already pulled the cross-posting for this site from Twitter, so if you want to keep tabs on new content, there’s some alternatives.

February 1, 2023

Snippet: Netflix is Going to Screw Themselves Over ☍

Matt Tamanini for The Streamable:

Netflix will be rolling out enhanced efforts to curb password sharing in the United States by the end of March; that much we know for sure. That was confirmed by co-CEO Greg Peters in January as part of the company’s fourth-quarter 2022 earnings report. However, the exact specifics as to what those efforts will look like have yet to be revealed by the world’s largest streamer; at least not officially.

Earlier this week, the streamer’s official domestic Help Center detailed new protocols to prevent people from using someone else’s account to access Netflix’s platform. The new rules would require subscribers to verify their home devices every month and devices outside of the home would be blocked and encouraged to create an account of their own.

Having spent a few years working in the world of higher education, there were many instances where students off at college would share a Netflix account with their parents. In most cases, their parents would be infrequent users and they’d be heavy users (at least anecdotally). It did give them something to feel connected if they were far apart, though. My mind immediately went there with these new rules. Between heavy-handed “home” enforcement, having a reputation for canceling well-liked shows before people can even get through them, and giving off “You wouldn’t download a car” vibes, Netflix is going from one of the cool, well-liked streaming services to being lumped in with greedy, old Big Cable™.

What about children whose parents are separated or divorced? By Netflix standards, they’d be in two households and breaking the rules. How about someone who has a summer vacation home? Nope. Against the rules. Truckers who watch things when they have downtime? Make sure you log in at home at least once a month or else.

Should they crack down on password sharing? Perhaps, it’s within their rights and a lot of people do it. However, I’d look at why people password share—there are cheapskates, but a lot more people are falling into the category of “college students’ parents” in that Netflix is nice to have for one or two things, but not an essential item. Add in the absolutely asinine limitations on the cheap tier and it makes more sense for two friends to split a higher-tier subscription to avoid ads and have 4K video (1x $19.99 vs. 2x $6.99). Netflix even gets more money and there’s some “stickiness” since two people would have to agree to cancel instead of one.

Nonetheless, the idea that Netflix is making themselves less essential and not the “core” service for streamers seems to be picking up steam. That should scare the crap out of their management because I doubt many users will convert to their own subscriptions or jump through all the authentication and verification hoops. They’ll just divert their attention elsewhere.

Snippet: Anker Finally Comes Clean About Its Eufy Security Cameras ☍

You may recall the story about some very sloppy and possibly malicious practices shared by The Verge in December and linked here. There’s finally somewhat of a resolution to the story, as reported by Sean Hollister:

In a series of emails to The Verge, Anker has finally admitted its Eufy security cameras are not natively end-to-end encrypted — they can and did produce unencrypted video streams for Eufy’s web portal, like the ones we accessed from across the United States using an ordinary media player.

But Anker says that’s now largely fixed. Every video stream request originating from Eufy’s web portal will now be end-to-end encrypted — like they are with Eufy’s app — and the company says it’s updating every single Eufy camera to use WebRTC, which is encrypted by default. Reading between the lines, though, it seems that these cameras could still produce unencrypted footage upon request.

That’s not all Anker is disclosing today. The company has apologized for the lack of communication and promised to do better, confirming it’s bringing in outside security and penetration testing companies to audit Eufy’s practices, is in talks with a “leading and well-known security expert” to produce an independent report, is promising to create an official bug bounty program, and will launch a microsite in February to explain how its security works in more detail.

Is some of this deflection and C-Y-A? Did the lawyers give it a once-over? Perhaps, but the company was candid about some measurable changes, which is more than many would do. I’m not fully sold on the resolution, but it’s a step in the right direction.