Apple continues to eat the watch industry’s lunch.

Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined:

Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.

Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.

That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.

Another industry who’s lunch Apple is eating.

Keep the success of Apple Watch in mind when you read stories about apps ditching it.

Put your phones away and enjoy the concert.

Jack White is requiring fans to keep their phones in locked pouches during his concerts:

Jack White has discouraged phone use at his live shows for years. In the past, he’s made a point of going onstage and asking fans to keep their phones in their pockets. Now, for his upcoming US tour, he’s trying a more aggressive approach. Fans will be asked to keep their phones secured in a Yondr-branded pouch that can only be unlocked in certain areas of the venue, NME reports.

A statement released today by White’s team says that concertgoers will be banned from taking photos, audio, or video during the tour. “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON,” the statement reads, according to NME.

Good move by White. I saw Dave Chappelle perform in Oakland a few years ago and he also has a no phone policy.

And to all you wannabe concert cinematographers: No one gives a shit about your shaky clips and you’ll probably never watch them again.

In-display fingerprint sensors. Great idea, but we’ve moved on.

Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov tried the first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor on phones made by Chinese company Vivo.

It seems to work great, and I always appreciate the refinement of old tech (even in the face of newer, better alternatives), but now that I’ve gotten used to FaceID, TouchID feels antiquated.

It’s great when I pick up my iPhone X and generic notifications expand to reveal their full transcripts when my face has been authenticated. I don’t have to touch anything.

My guess is companies like Vivo will tout in-display fingerprint sensors as a differentiator to the iPhone, but it will be interesting to see if people bite.

Apple Offers iPhone Battery Replacements

Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdown drama, will offer $29 battery replacements for a year:

Apple just published a letter to customers apologizing for the “misunderstanding” around older iPhones being slowed down, following its recent admission that it was, in fact, slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” says the company. “We apologize.”

Apple says in its letter that batteries are “consumable components,” and is offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 — a discount of $50 from the usual replacement cost. Apple’s also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018, so that users are aware of when their batteries are no longer capable of supporting maximum phone performance.

It’s bullshit Apple had to be called out this, but they’ve apologized and offered a reasonably priced solution.

I just upgraded from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone X, but I think it’s still worth it to replace the battery on my 6 Plus.

Confirmed: Apple Slows Down Older Devices

Ever notice – like I have – that your iPhone gets slower when you update to the latest version of iOS? A comment thread on Reddit started a few weeks ago on this topic and it hit the tech news sites this week.

Apple has since responded (via iMore):

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices”, Apple told iMore. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

This is a shitty way for Apple to get busted doing something they claim is by design.

I agree with what Marco Arment said on Twitter yesterday:

For years, we’ve reassured people that no, Apple doesn’t secretly slow down their older iPhones to make them buy new ones.

If this must be done, it should be a setting. If it’s on by default, the user should be alerted the first time it happens.

I have a 6-year-old Retina iPad 3 running iOS 9 and it’s for this very reason I haven’t updated it. And it’s also for this reason that it’s performance is still fairly snappy.

I’ve never needed confirmation from Apple that my devices were slowing down when I updated them.

Don’t Force-Close Your Apps

Over at The Verge Ashley Carman asks, Should you force close your apps?

No. No. No.

It drives me crazy when I see people do what Carman describes (and I see a lot of people do it):

I force close my apps all the time. I double click the home button on my iPhone 6S and close out of every app I’ve used, even in the past 20 minutes. It’s a terrible habit, but it makes me feel good.

I wrote about this over 4 years ago and what I wrote remains true: swiping up to kill background apps kills your battery life because it forces iOS to relaunch apps, versus merely ‘waking them up’ from their suspended background state.

What I discovered on my new iPhone X running iOS 11.2 is that Apple has made it a bit harder to close apps.

Now when you bring up the app switcher swiping up on an app card simply brings you back to your Home screen. In order to close apps, you have to bring up the app switcher and then long-press on any app card. This causes red close icons to appear in the corners of all the app cards. Now you can swipe up on app cards to close them.

But you don’t need to, so leave them the fuck alone.

Automobile News From Around the Web

Below are some automobile-related links I’ve accumulated over the last few months.

Where Self-Driving Cars Go to Learn:

Arizona has since built upon the governor’s action to become a favored partner for the tech industry, turning itself into a live laboratory for self-driving vehicles. Over the past two years, Arizona deliberately cultivated a rules-free environment for driverless cars, unlike dozens of other states that have enacted autonomous vehicle regulations over safety, taxes and insurance.

Too much regulation leads to stifled innovation, but too little regulation can lead to more dangerous roads for us humans. It sounds like Arizona is closer to the latter scenario.

Cadillac’s hands-free feature fixes the worst parts about driving:

Because you can leave your hands by your sides, the system uses an infrared camera mounted on the steering column to make sure you’re still ready to take over if things go south. It tracks your eyes, nose, mouth and ears and figures out where you’re looking. If you’re looking forward out the windshield or checking your mirrors, you’re fine. But let’s say you start staring out the side window or worse, at your phone, the car prompts you to start paying attention by flashing the green steering wheel light. If you ignore that, the flashing light on the wheel and accompanying audible warning for too long, the car will slow down, stop, turn on the flashers and call the authorities via OnStar.

We’re still in the awkward phase of autonomous vehicles. Roberto Baldwin notes in the link above that even though you still have to actively pay attention, being completely hands-free did drop his stress levels and fatigue. So while it’s not full autonomy, it’s progress.

Tesla Unlocked Florida Drivers’ Batteries Before Irma:

Since last spring, Tesla vehicles purchased with a 60kWh battery option have actually come with a 75kWh battery. The company’s software electronically limited the range to 60kWh, though it gave drivers the option to upgrade to full capacity at any time—for several thousand dollars.

On Saturday, the blog Electrek reported that some drivers of 60kWh Teslas in Florida suddenly found their cars showing 75kWh of range, even though they hadn’t paid any more money. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Electrek’s Fred Lambert that the company had unlocked the batteries’ remaining capacity remotely, via software update. That would give them about 30 miles of additional driving on a single charge. The move reportedly came in response to a request from at least one Florida driver who needed the extra range to get out of danger.

Telsa is walking a fine line here. What are their guidelines on what are acceptable situations for unlocking additional range on their vehicles? This feels a little too much like a puppet master pulling strings.

Butt-hurt Nerds

Why did Apple let a few YouTubers scoop the first iPhone X reviews?:

Apple’s iPhone X — its most anticipated new phone in a very long time — goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3.

So sometime this week, as usual, you’ll be able to read and watch a bunch of serious-sounding reviews, as Professional Gadget Reviewers critique everything from bezels to battery life.

But Apple did something different this year. It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven’t heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel’s Steven Levy write a “first first impression of the iPhone X” post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)

These videos, published by channels including Booredatwork.com, UrAvgConsumer, Soldier Knows Best, and sneaker/streetwear blog HighSnobiety, are a little braggy, mostly positive (“man, it’s pretty good!”) and don’t feel like gadget reviews at all. For many of us, they won’t replace the utility of more sophisticated reviews, which are supposed to tell us whether the iPhone X is worth our $1,000. They’re not great videos, frankly.

I love that the nerds are butt-hurt that Apple gave the scoop to some “YouTubers” instead of the established tech sites.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber laid the sarcasm on thick when he posted links this morning to all the YouTuber reviews (here, here, and here).

Admittedly, the YouTuber reviews are shitty, but I like seeing peeps in tech community throw their temper tantrums.

Relax, nerds. The legit reviews will be out soon enough.

Microsoft zigs, while Apple zags

Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing The Kinect:

Manufacturing of the Kinect has shut down. Originally created for the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s watershed depth camera and voice recognition microphone sold ~35 million units since its debut in 2010, but Microsoft will no longer produce it when retailers sell off their existing stock. The company will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but ongoing developer tools remain unclear. Microsoft shared the news with Co.Design in exclusive interviews with Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing.

I find it a funny coincidence that Microsoft shuts down Kinect right when Apple is releasing an iPhone which has what is essentially a minaturized Kinect in it for 3D facial recognition.

Microsoft has a tendency to zig in the wrong direction while Apple zags in the right direction.

The other big zig-zag example that comes to mind is multitouch. When Apple got it’s hands on multitouch, it made the iPhone and iPad. When Microsoft got their hands on multitouch, they made the Surface.

No, not the tablet we know today, I’m talking about the big-ass table.

An Essential Price Cut

Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, launched his own, new phone called the Essential Phone back in May and earlier today Dieter Bohn reported the Essential Phone dropped $200 in price (always a sign of a smash hit):

Essential is slashing the price of its eponymous phone, down to $499 at its website. That’s a $200 price cut from the original $699 price, less than two months after it began shipping to customers. There is really no other way to read the move except as a signal that it wasn’t selling well at $699 — especially given that the only US carrier stores it’s available in have “Sprint” above the door. It certainly doesn’t help that it now has to face the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL head-to-head.

I’m not sure what Andy Rubin expected. The market is extremely crowded, even if you take out the iPhone. Competing with just Samsung for Android market share is plenty of competition.

Let’s not forget the Essential Phone didn’t ship on time back in July.

Rubin’s first Essential blog post, Why I started Essential, kinda sorta sheds some light on things, but I’m still left confused:

For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?

I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.

I don’t use Android devices, but are people “fighting” with their Android phones? I’m also not convinced the Essential Phone distinguishes itself from other Android phones like the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy 8.

Nerds are getting great at building products, but they have to get better at marketing them. I recommend they read every book by Seth Godin for starters.

Lying Robots

Gizmodo contributor George Dvorsky interviewed the authors of Robot Ethics 2.0: From Autonomous Cars to Artificial Intelligence and they discuss why we might want to consider programming robots to lie to us:

Gizmodo: How can we program a robot to be an effective deceiver?

Bridewell: There are several capacities necessary for recognizing or engaging in deceptive activities, and we focus on three. The first of these is a representational theory of mind, which involves the ability to represent and reason about the beliefs and goals of yourself and others. For example, when buying a car, you might notice that it has high mileage and could be nearly worn out. The salesperson might say, “Sure, this car has high mileage, but that means it’s going to last a long time!” To detect the lie, you need to represent not only your own belief, but also the salesperson’s corresponding (true) belief that high mileage is a bad sign.

Of course, it may be the case that the salesperson really believes what she says. In that case, you would represent her as having a false belief. Since we lack direct access to other people’s beliefs and goals, the distinction between a lie and a false belief can be subtle. However, if we know someone’s motives, we can infer the relatively likelihood that they are lying or expressing a false belief. So, the second capacity a robot would need is to represent “ulterior motives.” The third capacity addresses the question, “Ulterior to what?” These motives need to be contrasted with “standing norms,” which are basic injunctions that guide our behavior and include maxims like “be truthful” or “be polite.” In this context, ulterior motives are goals that can override standing norms and open the door to deceptive speech.

Maybe robots should start reading fiction too.

Windows Phone is Dead

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore says Windows 10 Mobile features and hardware are no longer a focus:

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Windows, Joe Belfiore, has today clarified the company’s stance with Windows 10 Mobile and what it’s currently doing in the mobile space. In a series of tweets on Twitter, Belfiore states that as an individual end-user, he has switched to Android, and that Windows 10 Mobile is no longer a focus for Microsoft.

Belfiore confirms what we have been reporting in the past; that from here on out, Microsoft will continue to service Windows 10 Mobile with bug fixes and security patches, mainly for the enterprise market who adopted Windows 10 Mobile for work. Microsoft is not planning to bring any new consumer-facing features to Windows 10 Mobile, nor is it planning to release any new hardware.

I’ve been saying Microsoft is a day late and a dollar short with Windows Phone since they came late to the party 7 years ago. Back in 2011 I explained how Microsoft was swimming in a red ocean.

By the the time they got rolling with Windows Phone the iPhone was already a smash hit and Android had entrenched itself as the new “Windows for smartphones”. This left Microsoft with very little to convince people to switch to their platform.

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