Tim Cook Comments on US Exiting Paris Accord

John Paczkowski reports for BuzzFeed on an internal memo that Cook sent to employees about the news this week that President Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Accord. In the memo, Cook wrote: "I spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the U.S. in the agreement. But it wasn’t enough."

Cook followed the memo by tweeting that "Apple is committed to fight climate change and we will never waver."

On Swift Playgrounds 1.5

Jim Dalrymple at The Loop reported this week on the new version of Swift Playgrounds, coming this Monday, June 5. The banner feature is users will gain the ability to connect to Bluetooth devices such as drones and robots. As Jim writes, "you can go through the lessons, just as you would before, but you get to see a robot dance, or a drone fly when you execute the code."

And of course, Apple designed Swift Playgrounds to be fully accessible.

“We made it a priority to make sure it was absolutely accessible to all kids. We partnered with our accessibility team and they were able to do some amazing things—that’s something we’re super proud of,” said Cheryl Thomas, Apple vice president of Software Engineering Operations.

'What if the iPad Smart Keyboard Had a Trackpad?'

John Gruber is on board with the idea of adding a pointing device to iOS:

I fully admit this is not a perfect idea. But I do think it would greatly improve the efficiency of text editing on an iPad, and if text editing isn’t an essential task for iPad users, I don’t understand why Apple bothered making the Smart Keyboard in the first place. And, unlike adding touchscreen support to MacOS, adding trackpad support to iOS would not harm anything that is good about the way things already are.

I didn't include in my recent WWDC wishlist article, but to John's point, if iOS is to gain a pointing device, then Apple must add an option to adjust the size of the cursor. On the Mac, I have the mouse pointer set as large as can be. But on iOS, the biggest accessibility pain point I have with editing text is the cursor (and the magnification loupe) is way too small to see comfortably. This has been a problem for me for years; if Apple is to make the iPad more powerful for productivity, then accessibility must be part of the process. I don't doubt the company has considered this, but as someone whose job it is to work with text, a macOS-like solution to adjusting cursor + loupe size would be really great.

Trump's Managerial Style

Excellent piece by Ashley Parker for The Washington Post on Trump's treatment of staffers in the White House. My read is Trump belittles and berates in his authoritarian way.

This part, however, reads to me like complete bullshit:

“President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him,” Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement. “He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.”

Trump doesn't strike me as a person with a "magnetic personality" that "exudes positive energy." But what do I know? I'm just a snowflake liberal.

On Gabe Fleisher and 'Wake Up To Politics'

Great NYT profile of Gabe Fleisher, a 15-year-old kid reporter, who runs the Wake Up To Politics daily newsletter. As Stuart Emmrich writes, Fleisher has quite a following:

The free newsletter, which he has been writing in some form since he was 8, is a surprisingly sophisticated, well-researched summary of the day’s political news. It counts among its subscribers Gene B. Sperling, contributing editor at The Atlantic; the MSNBC anchor Steve Kornacki; Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent for CBS News; the “Daily Show” correspondent Roy Wood Jr. (who on Twitter called Wake Up “one of the best political newsletters to hit my inbox”); the author Mark Halperin; and Jim VandeHei, the founder of Axios and a founder of Politico — as well as reporters for The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, many of whom are among Gabe’s nearly 5,000 Twitter followers. (Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, is also a follower.)

This story is the best thing I've read in a while. I subscribed to the newsletter.

Bloomberg: Apple Developing AI Chip

Mark Gurman:

Apple is working on a processor devoted specifically to AI-related tasks, according to a person familiar with the matter. The chip, known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, would improve the way the company’s devices handle tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence -- such as facial recognition and speech recognition, said the person, who requested anonymity discussing a product that hasn’t been made public. Apple declined to comment.

This news really isn't all that surprising to me, as Johny Srouji's team has been kicking ass the last several years making custom silicon for Apple's devices. Gurman reports Apple is testing this new chip with future iPhone prototypes, so we may see it sooner than later.

'The Disappearing Computer'

The retiring Walt Mossberg published his final weekly column this week:

This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at the Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next.

The man has had one helluva career. I'll miss you, Walt.

Some Global Accessibility Awareness Day Follow-Up

I tweeted this last night:

That tweet was received very positively. Although the disappointment remains, I was happy to learn today about a (non-tech) podcast, Autastic, whose hosts did cover Apple’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day efforts last week.

Autastic is hosted by comedians Graham Kay and Kirk Smith, both of whom have family members on the autism spectrum. The hosts dedicated a special three-part series of interviews—episodes 89–91—to celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with an Apple flair.

In the first episode, Smith interviews Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Senior Manager of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. Herrlinger describes Apple’s mission statement for supporting accessibility, describes some accessibility features, and shares how she became interested in assistive technologies.

The second episode features an interview with Sooinn Lee, CEO of Enuma. Enuma is a company that, according to its website, “designs exceptional learning tools to empower children—including those with special needs—to be independent learners." They develop several education-oriented apps for iOS and Android, including Todo Math and Todo Telling Time.

The final episode features Andreas Forsland, maker of the Smartstones app. What Smartstones does is help people with limited or no verbal communication skills communicate via simple physical gestures. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. In addition, Smartstones works with switch-like headsets from Emotiv for users with limited or no movement.

As someone whose background is in special education and autism, I found these interviews to be really great. If you’re someone who cares about accessibility and apps, give these episodes a listen. They’re short in length, and well worth your time.

TJ Miller Leaving 'Silicon Valley' Ahead of Season 5

Joe Otterson, reporting for Variety:

“The producers of Silicon Valley and T.J. Miller have mutually agreed that T.J. will not return for season 5,” HBO said in a statement. “In Erlich Bachman, T.J. has brought to life an unforgettable character, and while his presence on the show will be missed, we appreciate his contribution and look forward to future collaborations.”

This is bad news. I recently got into Silicon Valley on HBO Now, and enjoy it immensely. Bachman is one of my favorite characters. It'll be interesting to see how producers write him out of the show, and how things will look after Miller's departure.

Lauren Kern Named First Editor-in-Chief of Apple News

Politico:

Morning Media has learned that Apple has given the job — a new position at the Cupertino-based company — to Lauren Kern, one of New York magazine’s most high-ranking editors and a former deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. It’s unclear what exactly the role will entail, and Kern declined to comment.

I tweeted this morning that I recently moved the News app to the Home screen of my iPhone and iPad. I enjoy it—it looks nice and the reading experience is highly accessible.

(via Stephen Hackett)

Safari Versus Chrome on the Mac

Astute observation by John Gruber:

For many people on MacOS, the decision between Safari and Chrome probably comes down which ecosystem you’re more invested in — iCloud or Google — for things like tab, bookmark, and history syncing. Me, personally, I’d feel lost without the ability to send tabs between my Macs and iPhone via Continuity.

In short, Safari closely reflects Apple’s institutional priorities (privacy, energy efficiency, the niceness of the native UI, support for MacOS and iCloud technologies) and Chrome closely reflects Google’s priorities (speed, convenience, a web-centric rather than native-app-centric concept of desktop computing, integration with Google web properties). Safari is Apple’s browser for Apple devices. Chrome is Google’s browser for all devices.

Apple HR Head Moves to Diversity & Inclusion VP Role

Jordan Kahn, reporting for 9to5 Mac:

Apple’s head of Worldwide Human Resources Denise Young Smith will now run diversity programs for the company under a newly created VP position, according to sources familiar with the move. The executive shuffle will see the creation of a new VP role for Apple’s Inclusion and Diversity team with Smith reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook. Sources say Smith has long had a passion for diversity initiatives at the company and the newly created position reflects an increased focus on the company’s efforts.

Smith’s new role going forward at Apple will officially be Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity. She confirmed the new title today on her LinkedIn profile and the change has also been made officially at Apple internally.

Sources say the position will mean Apple will be without a permanent VP of HR as Luca Maestri, the company’s SVP and CFO, steps in to fill the role temporarily.

Update: Kahn updated his story with a statement from Apple. “Our inclusion and diversity efforts are critically important to Apple’s future. Denise’s years of experience, expertise and passion will help us make an even greater impact in this area,” Apple said.

Nike Announces 'Day to Night' Apple Watch Bands

Per Nike's press release:

The "Day to Night" collection celebrates runners whenever they choose to run – at twilight, sunset and everything in between. Each of the colors is inspired by a shade of the sky, from dawn to dusk, and allows runners to – for the first time – make a statement by matching their Apple Watch Nike+ bands to their footwear.

These bands will go on sale on June 1 for $49. These look great; I'll definitely be getting one. I have a Nike+ band and like it a lot, so these new ones are exciting.

(via MacStories)

Federico Viticci's iOS 11 Wishlist

Federico returns for another year of sharing what he'd like Apple to do with iOS 11. Unlike previous years, however, this year's article focuses exclusively on the iPad. As he writes:

iOS for iPhone is, I believe, at a point of sufficient maturity: aside from particular feature additions, I don't think there's anything fundamentally missing from the iPhone.1 The iPad now bears the proverbial low-hanging fruit of iOS. There are obvious areas of improvement on iOS for iPad, which is, effectively, two years behind its iPhone counterpart. The iPad's lack of meaningful software advancements allows us to explore deeper ideas; thus, in a break with tradition, I decided to focus this year's iOS Wishes exclusively on the iPad and where Apple could take its software next.

Be sure to check out the accompanying concept video. It's terrific.