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November 3, 2023

Snippet: The Never-Ending Price Hikes for Streaming Services ☇

Rachyl Jones for Fortune:

Half of the major streaming platforms in the U.S. now charge a monthly fee that’s double the price they charged when they initially came to market. And many of these streaming services haven’t even been around for ten years.

Consumers have grumbled, but have so far been willing to keep paying up. It’s hard to say where the breaking point will be for consumers, but given that analysts believe the platforms are likely to continue raising prices even further, we’ll probably find out soon enough. […]

For legacy media companies, increased streaming prices are a step towards recouping lost revenue from their slowly dying traditional television businesses. As consumers increasingly cancel their cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming platforms, companies like Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Comcast and Paramount are losing money on their once reliably profitable TV businesses. […]

With so many streaming services, and no end in sight to price hikes, something will have to give at some point. The streaming industry is on the verge of losing some of its major players, analysts agree. “The macro, high-level view is that there are too many streaming services losing too much money, and someone is going to raise the white flag,” said Rich Greenfield, analyst at LightShed Partners.

Lots of people suggest “just going back to cable,” but prices for most of those services have also climbed, sometimes more significantly. On top of the higher base rate, most cable services are still tied to just a TV and require equipment fees.

While price increases are due to greed trying to make the services profitable, the current economic climate, mixed with the writers and actors strikes feels like a slap in the face to consumers. Mix in services that have too high of an opinion of themselves and consumers may eventually get fed up and unsubscribe for the last time. I know there have already been a few of those for me.

Snippet: In Defense of Being in Defense of Modest RAM ☇

Jason Koebler for 404 Media:

I’m not here to argue that the M-series chips aren’t good. I think that they are. But I also think that people have been far too quick to dismiss the importance of RAM for anyone who runs multiple programs at once or opens any meaningful number of tabs. Using swap on Apple silicon might be better than on other computers, but it still isn’t ideal, and you are still likely to suffer performance problems at times.

I can’t disagree that more RAM = better and Apple should start most of the lineup at 16GB instead—at the very least any MacBook Pro. However, even with a handful of Safari tabs open, Mail, Messages, NetNewsWire, Ivory, Pixelmator Pro, and a few little tools here and there, I’m only showing 6.5GB of 8GB in use on my M2 MacBook Air. In the year or so that I’ve had this computer, I haven’t thrown anything at it that it couldn’t handle. I’d suspect most people buying things like the Mac mini or M1 MacBook Air are in a similar boat.

As I mentioned, I use my computer like a monster, and currently have 95 Chrome tabs open, as well as Slack, Discord, Adobe Premiere, Spotify, Adobe Audition, 23 instances of TextEdit, Signal, Apple Podcasts, Pages, and iMessage open. I am currently using 46 GB of the 64 GB of RAM that I have on this computer. Several of my Chrome tabs are using more than a GB of RAM each, while the vast majority of them are using a few hundred MB each. This is not a problem, because my computer is new, and it is incredibly good, and I’m currently very happy with it. I sleep soundly at night knowing that I can open up as many tabs and programs as I want and will not make my computer freak out.

Seeing Koebler’s use case, one isn’t surprised that 8GB RAM probably isn’t going to cut it for him—and that’s absolutely fine. While it seems somewhat common, I really don’t understand the need to leave almost a hundred browser tabs open, with some consuming an absurd amount of memory when idle. This is also part of the reason why I swore off Chrome on all platforms. While Koebler’s computer can handle it, it is a problem with tools that are terrible with resources. Google and Adobe are massive offenders in this regard and I really wish these companies would get more public shame on the matter.

Additionally, as someone who has done troubleshooting with all sorts of BYOD devices at my current and former job, the bigger issue with older Macs has always been storage—I have users with 8GB RAM on 2015 MacBook Airs that are running fine except they can’t install updates or load large software packages because the 128GB SSD is full. Even older Macs with 4GB RAM seem to handle high RAM usage rather gracefully, so I’m not quite sure what “freaking out” exactly means.

Snippet: Siri’s Announce Notifications Detects Image Content in iOS 17.1 ☇

Justin Searls:

I didn’t see this reported elsewhere, but it’s pretty impressive that Siri is now doing realtime recognition of the contents photos (and in this case, animated GIFs!) when announcing messages to your AirPods or via CarPlay.

I noticed this, too—it caught me off guard the other day when it announced that I received an image that looked like a meme and then described a few elements on it. I think this is great for convenience, but also accessibility. I’ll be curious to see how this grows and develops.

October 31, 2023

Snippet: Behind the Scenes at Scary Fast: Apple’s Keynote Event Shot on iPhone ☇


On Monday, October 30, at Apple’s Scary Fast special event unveiling the all-new MacBook Pro with the M3 family of chips and 24-inch iMac with M3, there was an unseen star of the show working behind the scenes. All of the presenters, locations, and drone footage in the event were filmed using iPhone 15 Pro Max, the preferred smartphone for creative pros and filmmakers. Led by documentary film director Brian Oakes, known for the award-winning Jim: The James Foley Story and Living with Lincoln, Scary Fast put iPhone 15 Pro Max right in the middle of the action.

While they didn’t strictly use an iPhone by itself, it was still the primary device doing the capturing. I’ve been enjoying the evolution of Apple’s “infomercials” over the past few years, prerecorded events necessitated by the pandemic. While the initial ones had way more polish than anyone was expecting, the current ones tend to take advantage of and have fun with the medium. In some ways, by sharing the behind-the-scenes process, the Scary Fast event also became another ad for the iPhone 15 Pro.

Snippet: Cutting Down on Apple Subscriptions ☇

An interesting perspective from Vicent Ritter, living in Poland with a UK Apple account:

So let’s finally get to the article… Why am I cutting down? Well, it’s not only about the monthly cost, but it’s also the problem of where I stand with the quality of their services and the fine line of alienating a normal person (oh god, don’t hate me now, you’ll see). I can see raised eyebrows in the back! Oh no, I can see someone press the big red “cancel” button.

I’ve been tempted by Apple One, but I find that it’s often cheaper by about $30/year for me to cobble together a handful of items or annual subscriptions of things I actually use. While I’ve considered going back to purchasing music and using iTunes Match ($25/year) to stream my library, I also realize that I’d probably spend more than the remaining $84/year on buying music and be much pickier about what I’d add to my library. By my quick math, I’ve added about 120-200 songs/year to my library and who knows what one-offs I’ve listened to without adding. It makes Music feel like a good value.

The iCloud+ 200GB plan is cheap enough and convenient, so it would go nowhere, but also hurts the argument for Apple One for me (that is only 50GB, so I’d still have to add iCloud+).

I’ve subscribed to TV+ from the start and really enjoy it, feeling like the prior two price points were a bargain. I’d guess that out of the streaming services in our household, it currently gets the most use (followed by HBO Max, Prime Video, Netflix, and then Paramount+). However, with the increased price, Apple needs to continue to bring quality content or it could end up on the chopping block.

As for the other services, I’ve subscribed to Fitness+ in the past, but currently don’t because I am lazy I need to find more time in the day. I like the idea of Arcade, but just don’t find myself playing games on my phone other than a few longtime favorites. Similarly, News+ sounds great, but every time I try it, it seems to struggle with what I’m interested in and the ads are really tacky.

It’d be nice if Apple One allowed mix-and-match services with a bit of a discount or an annual option. Not only would that create a more “sticky” experience (I’m subscribing to one thing instead of 3-4), but I think I’d be less likely to scrutinize every price increase. In my case, if I keep TV+ things are only going up about $3/month (or $30/year), but it’s on top of every other streaming service increasing prices and inflation in general—not a great look.