Aw, yis! Upgrade time!
The story of the team who made iOS’s original emoji icons. Most importantly:
Sometimes our emoji turned out more comical than intended and some have a backstory. For example, Raymond reused his happy poop swirl as the top of the ice cream cone. Now that you know, bet you’ll never forget. No one else who discovered this little detail did either.
In the early 2000s, the Japanese mobile phone market looked… pretty much like nowhere else in the world. It was its own closed ecosystem of telco-run vendor portals and odd one-off proprietary technologies that was considered pretty much impossible to crack by an “outside” handset.
Except Apple did it, and because they did it, the rest of the world discovered emoji.
Apparently online advertising lobbyists have their banners in a twist over Apple’s plans to introduce automatic tracker blocking in Safari.
Most current adware blocking and spyware obfuscation is user-directed. That is, if you don’t want your every move on the internet tracked, collated, and onsold by massive shady multinational surveillance companies, you need to both, a) know the problem exists in the first place, and b) know which in the massive ecosystem of imperfect-but-better-than-nothing anti-spyware products is trustworthy enough to use.1
So while companies like Google and Facebook–whose business models are spying and nothing else–wring their hands with weak and useless “initiatives” designed more to stave off the looming threat of government regulation than protect users, Apple (and, to give them credit, Microsoft) are more and more using “protecting privacy” as their market differentiators. This is why Apple, for example, added a “cop button” to Touch ID in response to that ridiculous US ruling about biometrics.2
And it’s why, one assumes, Apple continues to beef up its browser anti-spyware technology. Apple’s motto has always been “it just works”; that is, their products are intuitive for non-tech types. “It just works” when applied to browser anti-spyware means the browser’s default, unconfigured state should be to deny third-party tracking and micro-targeted advertising. If the latter really does provide the “better user experience” that ad lobbyists like to claim, then users missing their micro-segmented Russian propaganda [content warning for discussions of how Facebook’s advertising platform facilitates antisemitism] can opt-in by using a less privacy-focused browser.
… Yeah. I’m not holding my breath, either.
“But free content on the internet relies on ads!” cry the industry shills.
Well… yes and no. First of all, even when content relies on advertising, there’s no reason whatsoever that it has to rely on the hyper-targeted, micro-segmented, deeply personally intrusive style of advertising sold by platforms like Facebook. The sole reason this type of advertising exists is to give ad platforms an excuse to charge more and, thus, make more money. Keep in mind, I’m not just talking about, say, Google showing you ads for garden supply stores when you search for
how to fix ruptured garden hose. I’m talking about things like Facebook trying to sell you things based on its inference of your current mood. Removing that level of intrusiveness is not, let’s be completely clear about this, going to kill the internet.
Second of all, I am Internet Old and, as such, I absolutely remember a time before the internet decided “spying on everyone, all the time” was going to be its primary business model. Yes, things looked different–they were much more decentralized, for example, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–but, again, people managed. Just like they do now with things like non-ad-sourced micropayments and premium content subscriptions. Yes, monetizing in this way isn’t “easy” but–and maybe this is just me–that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Particularly when you consider the sort of content that’s profitable in ad-based attention economies…
In other words, bring on the blockers, I say.
The last few years, Apple has sold, on average, 800,000 new iPhones a day. In order to meet the demand, not only do they have to manufacture phones close to that rate, but all of the components that they buy from other companies have to be manufactured by those other companies at that rate. Samsung, currently the only source of the high-end OLED screen mentioned above, literally can’t manufacture them fast enough to meet that kind of demand. And that isn’t the only component in the premium phones like that. So part of the reason that both Samsung and Apple are charging nearly 1000 bucks for their highest-end phones is because they want most of their customers to buy the other models, the ones that don’t have components which can’t (yet) be produced at that quantity.
fontfolly on $1,000 phones.
Seriously, the scale of the ecosystem behind Apple’s incredible throughput of iPhones is… pretty much unprecedented, and it goes all the way down their supply chain. There is, after all, a reason they appointed a CEO (i.e. Tim Cook) with a background in logistics…
Something to be thankful to Microsoft for: Google will apparently phase out reading emails for targeted advertising.
Microsoft’s O365 is Google’s biggest competitor in the corporate email hosting space, and one of the biggest reasons companies pick O365 is because Microsoft doesn’t hang a skeevy-as-fuck ad platform off of it.1 Google’s approach works for personal use and for small businesses and start-ups (who’re more worried about not spending money than privacy), but Microsoft’s is more popular in large business, government, and education, all of whom tend to place more emphasis on data privacy and sovereignty.
Whether or not the privacy issues with Google’s email ads are a real or invented problem is sort of moot. The fact that people perceive there’s an issue there means more are moving to competitor platforms, specifically Microsoft and Apple. The latter hasn’t aggressively pursued the enterprise market, but every now and again there are rumblings that they might be thinking about it, particularly in the small- to medium-business end. Apple arguably has the weakest SaaS offering of the three–which isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just that Microsoft and Google’s are so much better–but does have both the highest hardware satisfaction rate and the most vocally strong stance on privacy. Microsoft doesn’t sell its privacy angle as hard as Apple does, and they’ve had a few public gaffes, but they’re pretty solid on it, particularly around enterprise.2 In other words, both companies are using privacy as a market differentiator and, from the looks of it, not just succeeding but forcing Google to play catch-up.
Either way, for once this almost looks like a good news story on the user end. Huh.
- The other reason is vendor lock-in–it’s relatively easy to move an existing on-premise Exchange set-up to O365–and the other other reason is because Microsoft is much better at playing ball with local certification and regulation requirements than Google is. In other words, Microsoft positions itself, not incorrectly, as the low-risk option. [↩]
- Most of the “phone home” settings people don’t like in, say, Windows 10 are easy to turn off en masse via Group Policy, which every organisation does. [↩]
Taking on crappy online ads, Apple-style.
This isn’t altruism, of course: Apple’s biggest rivals, i.e. Google, have almost all of their revenue from adtech, while Apple has more-or-less none. Coupled with the fact that users loathe ads, it means they’re a safe target for Apple to hit at.
I still use Chrome on iOS, because I like the syncing with the desktop and I like my desktop Chrome ad-ins. But mobile-based Chrome is getting worse (cough not supporting iOS’s adblockers cough), while Safari is getting better. As websites get more bloated with ad- and spyware, I’m already using Safari more and more for the simple fact that pages in Chrome become unusable. Google’s attempts to “fix” this–things like AMP and its own new “adblocking”–are more about gaining market share for Google than they are making things better for users.
I suspect it’s only a matter of time before I end up making the browser switch permanently…