September 1, 2018

Link: Google and Mastercard Cut a Secret Ad Deal to Track Retail Sales ☍

Mark Bergen and Jennifer Surane for Bloomberg:

For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com Inc. and others.

I’m not surprised, but that’s really creepy. It’s sort of what Amazon does in-house, but for everything in the outside world paired up with your Google account. The difference is that Amazon makes it very obvious that your activity on Amazon is designed to build a profile to recommend and sell more things to you, and this was happening behind people’s backs. Even if it’s anonymized and not tied to you, it still feels gross. This seems par for the course for Google, but I hope Mastercard takes some heat on this.

Link: Love Notes to Newton ☍

I checked this documentary out a couple of weeks ago—for those who don’t know, the Newton was a very early personal digital assistant made by Apple in the 1990s. While it was gaining some traction, smaller and cheaper devices became popular, and it was killed upon the return of Steve Jobs to the company. To this day, there’s a small, but passionate group still using products in the Newton family and doing new things with them because it was a truly special platform, unlike anything else at that time or after. Even if you’ll never see one in real life, this documentary is a fascinating look at an important part of Apple’s history.

August 27, 2018

Link: Don’t Review Betas ☍

The Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler reviews the new Screen Time features on iOS 12. Despite mentioning that it’s not released yet, he treats it like a finished product. While I wholeheartedly agree that it’s lacking from a parental controls standpoint, it is an initial release and is mostly designed to curtail and analyze usage.

Ultimately, despite Apple and other companies offering public betas, you should never review a beta as a finished product. Even then, you probably shouldn’t double down when people comment on that.

August 25, 2018

Link: The Verge Just Won’t Let It Go ☍

Chaim Gartenberg reinforces the hill that The Verge wants to die on:

Now, there are some who might argue that the dongle only tops the chart because of the fact that Apple made the still-frustrating decision to remove an industry-wide standard port from its devices, or because the adapter is easily lost or prone to breaking. But I will say that those people are clearly just stumping for their fallen favorite accessories like the Lighting cable or wired EarPod headphones, and have yet to realize the courageous elegance that the dongle can bring to their lives.

I generally like a lot of things posted on The Verge, be it pro- or anti-Apple. They generally do a good job, but the site started complaining about this before the iPhone 7, and it comes up every now and then, despite the general public seeming to have adapted for both iPhones and many Android phones. Bluetooth headphones can be found for relatively low prices and Apple even includes an adapter and Lightning-equipped EarPods in the box. If you’re going to ditch a port, those inclusions are more than reasonable.

The report, which was taken from 9to5Mac and originally Ceros (which is worth a read) tends to be more factual and analytical, rather than the, “But the dongles!” rhetoric that one can expect from The Verge.

August 21, 2018

Link: Apple Uninvents Time Travel ☍

Joe Cieplinski had the right call on this:

Me, back in April 2016: “Get rid of Time Travel. It’s a gimmick, and I activate it accidentally more often than not.”

Today, on AppleInsider: RIP Time Travel – A seldom-used Apple Watch feature set to disappear with watchOS 5