Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, Javascript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans. Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches. Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user
Continue reading "Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project"

Apple has finished paying $15 billion European fine

Apple has finished wiring billions of euros to pay back illegal tax benefits to the Irish government according to Reuters. Overall, Apple has paid $15.3 billion (€13.1 billion) for the original fine as well as $1.4 billion (€1.2 billion) in interests. In August 2016 the European Commission ruled that Apple benefited from illegal tax benefits from 2003 to 2014. In particular, the company should have paid more taxes in Ireland — a lot more. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Apple’s effective corporate tax rate was much lower than expected. At the time, many global companies used the Double Irish structure to pay corporate tax on a fraction of your actual profit. Apple claimed that everything was legal, and the Irish government sided with Apple — probably because the huge fine would be bad for business. European governments lobbied to put an end to the
Continue reading "Apple has finished paying $15 billion European fine"

Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves

Spire’s Health Tags, the dark and tiny devices you stick on your clothes to gather all sorts of health data from your steps, heartbeat and stress levels is now available at your local Apple Store. The company started out with a breath tracking device to detect when you are feeling tense and help calm you down. But four years in and its now all about the wearable “tags” you stick on items of clothing like your pants or sports bra. Yes, yes, there are lots of gadgets out there to gather similar information — the Apple Watch will now even detect if you have a fall or something is wrong with your heart — but the Spire health tag is nothing like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to the company. For one, there’s zero need to charge the device. One tag’s battery will last a year and a half
Continue reading "Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves"

Review: iPhone XS, XS Max and the power of long-term thinking

The iPhone XS proves one thing definitively: that the iPhone X was probably one of the most ambitious product bets of all time.

When Apple told me in 2017 that they put aside plans for the iterative upgrade that they were going to ship and went all in on the iPhone X because they thought they could jump ahead a year, they were not blustering. That the iPhone XS feels, at least on the surface, like one of Apple’s most “S” models ever is a testament to how aggressive the iPhone X timeline was.

I think there will be plenty of people who will see this as a weakness of the iPhone XS, and I can understand their point of view. There are about a half-dozen definitive improvements in the XS over the iPhone X, but none of them has quite the buzzword-worthy effectiveness of a marquee upgrade like 64-bit,

Continue reading "Review: iPhone XS, XS Max and the power of long-term thinking"

Apple’s iBooks revamp, Apple Books, is here

Apple’s new and improved iBooks app, now called Apple Books, has popped up on iPhones across the world today with the release of iOS 12, the software update available to download as of this morning. The new app has five tabs: Reading Now, Library, Book Store, Search and, for the first time, a dedicated Audiobooks tab. Apple first previewed it at WWDC in June. The company said its sleek new look was the “biggest books redesign ever.” Cleaner UI, coupled with larger images, gives the app a more modern feel and an overall better experience. More importantly, it sets up Apple to better compete with other audio/e-book apps, like the Amazon-owned Audible. < div class="mezzanine-player" style="position: relative; padding-top: 0; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 100%; overflow: hidden;">
In the Book Store, users can explore recently released titles and best-selling books, as well as curated collections and special offers; it’s available in 51 countries and free books for download are available in 155 countries. Apple Books is also a lot smarter than its predecessor. As you download titles and engage with the app, the app will send you personalized recommendations based on your activity. Indeed, it was time for an update. Audiobooks are more popular today than when Apple first launched iBooks in 2010 and are very much deserving of their own tab. According to Pew Research Center, one in five Americans regularly listens to them — a 28 percent increase from 2016.