Archive for July 11, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Pokémon Go Phenomenon

Serenity Caldwell et al.:

Most people have at least heard of Pokémon — Nintendo’s ever-popular title — which asks players to travel a fictional world in order to collect every creature out there. But today’s world is not the world of the 1990s: Nintendo and Niantic Labs have teamed up to let players catch Pokémon in the very world we live in, thanks to a combination of GPS, augmented reality, and dorky-cute graphics.

A good introduction for people like me who have basically only heard about Pokémon—until this weekend—through Swift example code.

James Vincent (Hacker News):

Nintendo’s stock continues to skyrocket following the release of Pokémon Go. After an increase of 9.3 percent with the game’s launch last week, the company’s share price rose 24.52 percent on Monday to ¥20,260 ($193) — its highest one-day surge since 1983, adding $7.5 billion to the firm’s market value. The game has topped app download charts in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, and according to some market researchers, has already been installed on 5 percent of all Android smartphones in America.

Mitchel Broussard:

Because it requires players to travel to real-world destinations in order to stock up on Poké Balls, eggs, potions, and compete at gyms, some individuals have been capitalizing on the game’s mechanics to trap and rob its players. According to a Facebook post from the O’Fallon Police Department in Missouri, four people were arrested over the weekend after using a Lure Module at a PokéStop to draw in unsuspecting players and rob them at gunpoint.

Aaron Levie:

Nintendo’s mobile strategy:
2008: what’s an iPhone
2010: what’s an Android
2012: nope
2014: still no
2016: change how society functions

Although it sounds like Nintendo’s contribution was mostly the IP. The game was developed by Niantic, of Ingress fame.

Previously: Nintendo.

Update (2016-07-11): Adam Reeve (via David Chartier):

To play the game you need an account. Weirdly, Niantic won’t let you just create one - you need to sign in with an existing account from one of two services - the website or Google. Now the Pokemon site is for some reason not accepting new signups right now so if you’re not already registered there you’ll need to use a Google account - and that’s where the fun begins.


Let me be clear - Pokemon Go and Niantic can now:

  • Read all your email
  • Send email as you
  • Access all your Google drive documents (including deleting them)
  • Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
  • Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
  • And a whole lot more

What’s more, given the use of email as an authentication mechanism (think “Forgot password” links) they now have a pretty good chance of gaining access to your accounts on other sites too.

Update (2016-07-12): @SwiftOnSecurity:

When you give a company keys to your account, you’re giving your keys to their employees and anyone who hacks them. Not a question of trust.

Yan Zhu:

weird thing abt PokemonGo getting full goog account access is that iOS showed no permission dialog. goog should just revoke their app tokens

Adam Reeve has posted a FAQ.

Rosyna Keller:

I don’t understand… @NianticLabs fixed the Google scope bug in Ingress on April 19th but left it in Pokémon GO?!

William Turton:

But in a call with Gizmodo, Reeve backtracked his claims, saying he wasn’t “100 percent sure” his blog post was true. On the call, Reeve also admitted that he had never built an application that uses Google account permissions, and had never tested the claims he makes in the post.

Cybersecurity expert and CEO of Trail of Bits Dan Guido has also cast serious doubt on Reeve’s claim, saying Google tech support told him “full account access” does not mean a third party can read or send or send email, access your files or anything else Reeve claimed. It means Niantic can only read biographical information like email address and phone number.


A product security developer at Slack tested the token provided by Pokémon Go and found that it was never able to get data from services like Gmail or Calendar.

Nicole Lee:

Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company issued a response to Engadget, confirming that it’s not actually reading your emails. Still, it has far more access than is necessary for the game and the company says that while it’s working on a fix for the client to only request the correct permission, Google will reduce Pokémon Go’s access on its end ‘soon.’

Update (2016-07-13): Lukas Mathis:

Much of the argument for Nintendo to create mobile games was based on the idea that Nintendo could not survive just selling its own consoles. I think it’s fair to say that the last few years have shown this to be false. Even with the Wii U being an abysmal failure, Nintendo is consistently profitable.


For Pokémon GO to achieve the same kinds of numbers, it will have to continue doing this well for quite a while.

That’s not to say that Pokémon GO can’t achieve those numbers - but how many of Nintendo’s other games will be lottery wins the size of Pokémon GO?


One final point: it feels a little bit disheartening to see the adulation Nintendo is currently getting for moving towards the same kind of manipulative, free-to-play, IAP-monetized games we get from tons of other rather questionable mobile gaming companies. It really took a very short amount of time for us to accept these games as the new normal.

Mitchel Broussard:

One week after it launched in the United States, Pokémon Go is now the biggest mobile game in the country’s history, in statistics focusing on the amount of daily active users (DAU) the app draws.

Update (2016-07-15): See also: Aeriform.

Update (2016-07-25): See also: Free-to-Play Dogs (via Accidental Tech Podcast).

Ben Lovejoy:

After Nintendo’s market-cap more than doubled following the launch of the game, investors seem to have belatedly realized that the company sees only indirect benefits from Go. Bloomberg reports that shares plunged 18% – the maximum allowed before trading is automatically halted by the Tokyo stock exchange – with a further drop looking likely when trading resumes.

Update (2016-07-28): Pokémon Free-to-Play Dogs (via Accidental Tech Podcast).

Apple and the Blind

Katie Dupree (via John Gruber):

The company, for example, made the first touchscreen device accessible to the blind via VoiceOver. Recent announcements of Siri coming to Mac this fall, and of newer innovations, like a magnifying glass feature for low-vision users, have continued the promise of improving the Apple experience for those who are blind and low vision.


The most recent example of community-driven innovation can be found on the Apple Watch. During a meeting, Herrlinger explains, a person who sees could easily peer down at their watch to keep an eye on the clock. A person who is blind, however, hasn’t had a way to tell time without VoiceOver.

After confronting the conundrum, Apple solved the issue by making a feature that tells time through vibrations. The addition, Herrlinger says, is coming to watchOS 3 this fall.


For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement.

“I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”

In coding, she uses a combination of Nemeth Braille — or “math Braille” — and Alphabetic Braille. Castor even says that with the heavy presence of tech in her life, she still prefers to read meeting agendas in Braille.

The History of “This Web Site Is Well-crafted” Hints

Adrian Holovaty:

Over time, technology stabilizes and the techniques become expected. 10+ years ago, in the era of .cgi and .asp, I remember geeking out with Simon Willison about beautiful URL structures we’d seen. No file extensions! Readable! Hackable!

To us, they were signals that a web development team sweated the small stuff. It’s like the famous Steve Jobs story about making the inside of the hardware look just as nice as the outside, even if nobody ever sees it, because you have pride in your work.

With this in mind, I put together a list of these hints, as I remember them. Perhaps it’s of some historical interest, or maybe it’s just fun nostalgia. Almost all of these have become mainstream by now.

Praise for the Fujitsu ScanSnap

Kirk McElhearn:

If I had known, I would have opted for the more expensive ScanSnap iX500 (, Amazon UK), which has a larger document feeder, and wifi, and is faster. And I’ve thought from time to time that, if mine dies, I’ll replace it with the better model, but it seems to be a workhorse. It’s rare that I have a lot of documents to scan, and it’s no hassle to have the device connected to my Mac.

But, for now, this is one of the best pieces of hardware I’ve ever bought. It’s an essential tool for a modern home or office, where we are inundated with paper.

I tried many document scanners over the years, but none worked reliably. I wanted to go paperless, but not if the hardware was always getting in the way. About nine years ago, I got a ScanSnap S500m. It seemed expensive, but it ended up being one of my best purchases ever. It’s so easy to use, almost always does the right thing, and mine is still going strong today—although the plastic has yellowed like a Mac 128K.