For fans of macOS Server, this just another in a long string of disappointments over the years. But none of them were as big as the cancellation of the Xserve, Apple's rack-mountable 1U server, back in January 2011.
With macOS Server coming to an end, this is a nice write-up of the long-passed Xserve.
When the Xserve came out it seemed like a seismic shift for Apple towards serious moves into the enterprise. Not only was it impressive hardware, but its slim 1U rack profile made it attractive to data warehouses. Much like its Mac Pro computers, however, the product languished as a nitch product. It had high prices and was slow to keep pace with computer power. Even if Apple did give it enough sunlight to grow, it inevitably would have come to a similar end with on-premise data centers first consolidating with virtual servers and then shutting down completely for the cloud.
Twitter ending Mac app
We're focusing our efforts on a great Twitter experience that's consistent across platforms. So, starting today the Twitter for Mac app will no longer be available for download, and in 30 days will no longer be supported.
I haven't used a Mac Twitter client for some time. In part because I mostly use an iOS app, but also feels app-like enough for me. Certainly, I think Twitter prefers to drive traffic to the web instance of its service for better engagement and advertising.
HomePod leaves marks on some varnished wood
Curious find by Pocket-Lint while using the Apple HomePod. Apparently, it may leave ring marks on certain wood surfaces.
The Apple HomePod speaker sits flat on any given surface creating a snug fit, presumably to help resonate and amplify the bass. It is this snug fit that could cause you problems however. For our tests we placed the speaker on a solid oak kitchen worktop treated with Danish oil.
Within 20 minutes the HomePod had caused a white discoloured ring to appear on the wood that some days later has faded, although still hasn't completely disappeared.
We subsequently tested the HomePod on other materials: the same wood that hadn't been treated with Danish oil and a regular lacquered desk and haven't seen the same issues.
Danish Oil is a blended wood oil and water-proof coat. Apple said the issue is a reaction between the varnish and the silicone base on the HomePod. Danish Oil isn't a typical wood treatment on modern furniture and usually found on custom-made or restored antique furniture. I'll guess it won't be widely observed, but something to consider.
Verizon to begin temporarily locking new devices
The nation's largest wireless carrier said Monday that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase -- in line with the rest of the industry.
The first part seems reasonable for mail-order devices. If a new unlocked device is shipped to you, that's a pretty attractive target for thieves. By locking the devices to the network, it should help reduce the value of that device as it can't be activated on any network, particularly overseas. The next phase of this will lock devices after they have been activated. The second lock is a little shadier, however, it seems in line with other U.S.-based carriers. The justification is someone could steal your identity and buy a new device on your account to turn sell it. Verizon hasn't stated the timeframe of this period or whether the lock must be requested by the customer.
I've been irritated with Verizon's constant data plan tinkering. What was a pretty consumer-friendly menu of options have slowly turned to funneling people into pricy unlimited plans with bandwidth restrictions. So, I guess I'm a little skeptical of the stated intent of this change. This seems to benefit Verizon by locking people into its service. If you're buying the device outright or on an installment loan, there should be nothing preventing you from going to another wireless provider, assuming, of course, the device is technically supported.
New videos demonstrate HomePod features
Apple Support's YouTube channel has a new playlist for its new HomePod. The playlist current has three new videos on how to personalize the HomePod, how to use Siri to play music and how to use the touch controls.
Each vignette is about a minute long and provides some detailed demonstrations of the HomePod. I think these are nice because most of the marketing materials I've seen haven't gotten into the details of functionality. Being a new product segment, it probably needs a little deeper explanation of functions.
Inside Apple's iOS leak
Last week the iBoot source code for iOS 9 went viral after it landed on GitHub. Motherboard has an account of how the leak happened. Basically, a low-level employee removed it from Apple in 2016 and shared it with a small group of friends. Over time, the code was shared further and eventually someone posted it publically.
No one I spoke to is exactly sure who leaked it outside of the first tight-knit group of friends. And no one knew exactly what happened next. But everyone I spoke to agrees that at some point they lost control of the code and it slowly spread further and further. Motherboard confirmed that this particular source code began circulating more widely in 2017 with a fourth and fifth source who are familiar with the jailbreaking and iPhone research communities.
HomePod repair costs nearly match replacement cost
Apple's HomePod appears to require a full replacement if it becomes damaged. According to Apple's support documents, the HomePod warranty repairs cost $279. If you have AppleCare+, the fee will be a much more modest $39. AppleCare+ for the HomePod runs $39 and includes support for two incidences in addition to extending the warranty to two years.
As a new HomePod costs $350, it appears the HomePod design doesn't lend itself to repairs. Apple will likely provide a new or refurbished HomePod if a repair is required.
Now, home speakers aren't like to be damaged and any defects will likely emerge during the 1 year warranty period. So, this probably isn't that big of a deal. If you have kids, however, the $39 may be good insurance just in case.
Bryan Fuller Exits Apple's 'Amazing Stories' Anthology
The Hollywood Reporter:
Bryan Fuller, who was poised to helm Apple's Amazing Stories anthology, has exited the project citing creative differences. The split is said to be amicable. Fuller, who originally developed Amazing Stories for NBC before it moved to Apple with a series pickup, is said to have wanted to do a Black Mirror-type show, which sources say was not something the iPhone maker had in mind.
The news may give some insight into Apple's vision for original programming. Apple is gearing its original programming for family-friendly content rather than realistically gritty stories that are popular on cable. Apple probably wants to avoid any controversies that may hurt its overall brand.
ESPN announces limited streaming package
ESPN's parent Disney announced plans for ESPN Plus that's essentially an add-on streaming service to the company's cable channels. ESPN Plus will cost $5 per month, but won't deliver content actually on ESPN's network of cable channels. Details aren't fully announced, but it's expected ESPN Plus will show exclusive programming that may not be of interested to the broader audience for ABC/ESPN sports programming.
Cable and dish subscribers with packages carrying ESPN will still be able to stream live content. The key point is if you want to see conventional ESPN programming, you'll still need a cable subscription even if you stream it over the net. That part probably isn't changing anytime soon.
So, it's not terribly exciting news, but it's likely a small step towards what seems inevitable de-bundling of ESPN from cable channels. The way cable bundles work ESPN heavily relies on monthly fees from people who have little to no interest in watching its programming. If ESPN were to start offering services directly to customers, it would likely further disrupt cable bundles since live sports is a big deal to a lot of people reluctant to cut the cord. If ESPN subscribers go over the top and pay ESPN directly, not only would it cut out the cable companies, but the whole basic cable bundle would likely change. It seems likely ESPN would lose more than anything it can get from direct subscribers, but who knows.
ESPN continues to bleed subscribers, so eventually, it may have to change its model.
Apple states iPhone 8/8 Plus and X addresses battery issues via hardware
Apple formally responded to a congressional inquiry over the controversy with an iOS update addressing degrading battery life. When the battery severely degrades, it may perform unpredictably. The iPhone is designed to protect against low voltage and will shut down if needed. The update essentially throttles the processor performance to conserve battery power in specific situations.
Addressing the question of whether intends to roll out throttling changes to new models, Apple indicated that it may have mitigated the issue with hardware changes in the iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X:
"iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown.