Archive for March 25, 2019

Monday, March 25, 2019

Apple Card

Mitchel Broussard (Hacker News):

Apple today revealed a brand new service called “Apple Card,” a new digital and physical credit card that users will be able to sign up for right from their iPhone. Apple says this sign-up process takes just a few minutes and then they can start using the Apple Card right away in stores, in apps, or online worldwide. Apple partnered with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard for Apple Card.


Get 3% back on everything you buy from Apple, whether you buy it at an Apple Store,, the App Store, or iTunes. That includes games, in‑app purchases, and services like your Apple Music subscription and iCloud storage plan.

Get 2% back every time you buy something using Apple Pay. That’s in every category, with no limits. Imagine all the things you use a credit card for every day — at Target, Walgreens, Lyft. You’ll get 2% back on just about everything.

If you happen to come across a store, website, or app that doesn’t take Apple Pay yet, Apple Card still gives you 1% of your purchases back in the form of Daily Cash.

This doesn’t seem like anything special compared with existing no-fee rewards credit cards, and you can already get 3% back on Apple purchases with the Apple Rewards Visa.

Mark Sullivan:

The card includes a feature that makes sense of cryptic receipts using machine learning. It also provides analytics on purchases, like a neat bar graph showing spending habits.

I don’t really get the idea of per-card spend tracking. I want to track this stuff across all payment methods, and I certainly don’t want the data locked away in a limiting app.

Update (2019-03-25): John Gruber:

What a crock of shit this “low interest rates” line is. Those interest rates are usury, right in line with the rest of the credit card industry. 24% interest ought to be criminal, and 13% is not “low”.

Update (2019-03-26): Brian Roemmele:

Consider a 99¢ app purchase, currently Apple incurs about 13¢ payment processing fees of the 99¢ transaction. If the user is induced, and have no doubts Apple will offer inducements, to use Apple Pay Cash Daily Cash to pay, Apple pays $0. Lets look at that again, $0 vs. about 13¢. This alone would represent millions of dollars of new revenue for Apple. Payments for Apple will move from being a loss leader to a net revenue stream.

Owen Williams:

this is incredible copywriting because it literally doesn’t mean what it looks like it means on first glance (but also, sort of does just enough to not be a lie)

Yeah I can see at least four intentional holes:

1) [Goldman Sachs] can use it for marketing/any purpose internally
2) they can analyse that data internally and sell the results
3) they can share it with apple
4) can share/sell outside of marketing (pretty broad...) as it likes

Adam BBH:

Issuers don’t access credit card transactional data in a way that would allow this. They service the card via processor portals. The payment processor (MasterCard) would be the one who sells data and it’s only sold in high level aggregate, anonymously.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I think Apple Card is gonna be huge for iOS users, if they can roll it out internationally. People trust Apple to make amazing things, and I can’t imagine many currently enjoy the relationship they have with their credit card provider. I’d love an Apple Card, for one

I get better customer support from my credit card providers than I do from Apple, and their admin/payment Web sites work better.

Matt Levine:

Boy I tell you what, I find it kind of useful to have my credit card number printed on my credit card, but I guess that is just me. Perhaps a sleek user interface is more important than a useful one.

Update (2019-03-27): John Gruber (tweet):

As someone who had his card number stolen a few months ago, I appreciate this. Those static card numbers are archaic. It sounds like Apple is pushing the whole industry forward here.

Update (2019-03-28): Jeff Porten:

In fact, scratch the surface, and there’s quite a lot that’s stunning about these Apple Card policies. What appears to be a few user-friendly features could have massive ramifications.

Peter Berg:

Unless you spend more on Apple products than gas, groceries and restaurants combined, there are many better rewards cards for you.

See @NerdWallet and thank me later.

Update (2019-03-29): Matthew Panzarino (tweet, Hacker News):

Apple Card has no late fees and no penalty rates. You will continue to pay your agreed upon interest rate on your outstanding balance, but that rate will not go up.


Neither the physical card nor the app will display a signature. A network change a few months ago means that signatures are not required at point of sale for any credit cards.


The physical Apple Card, of course, has no number. The app displays the last 4 digits of the card number that is on the mag stripe of the card only, you never see the full card number.

Instead, Apple provides a virtual card number and virtual confirmation code (CVV) for the card in the app. You can use this for non-Apple Pay purchases online or over the phone. This number is semi-permanent, meaning that you can keep using it as long as you want.


When you get Apple Card the virtual PAN is pushed to auto fill in Safari. So when you sign up you’re going to automatically have access to the virtual card number Apple generates for you on Safari on iOS and Mac.

Joe Wituschek:

There are a number of other cash back credit cards that already match or exceed the cash back rewards that Apple Card is going to feature, as well as also having no annual fee and offering bonus offers for when you sign up. Let’s take a look at three cash back credit cards that go pound-for-pound against Apple Card.

Update (2019-05-20): Ken Segall:

Well … not so fast. The truth is, Steve Jobs actually did do this. At least he tried to.


The year was 2004, when Apple was a very different company. It had only recently reinvented the music industry with iPod and iTunes, forever changing the way we buy and discover music.

Steve thought the time was right for Apple to offer its own credit card. He would call it … (drum roll)… Apple Card.


Purchases would earn iPoints, which could be redeemed for your favorite music on iTunes.

Apple Arcade

Tim Hardwick (Hacker News):

Apple today announced Apple Arcade, a new subscription-based games service for mobile, desktop, and the living room, featuring hundreds of titles from top video game publishing houses including Disney, Sega, Lego, Cartoon Network, and Konami.


All Apple Arcade games will be all-you-can-play experiences, with all features, content, and updates included at no extra charge, and with no ads or in-app purchases necessary.

Christine Chan:

There are a ton of game development studios that are working with Apple on Apple Arcade titles. Here are some of the partners that we know of so far[…]


Apple is not just handpicking the games in Apple Arcade, but also contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life.

Mark Gurman:

The company would collect these monthly fees, then divide up the revenue between developers based on how much time users spend playing their games, one of the people said.


Not only is paying devs by how long users play games TERRIBLE for developers, it also grants extreme financial incentive for devs to make their games as predatory as possible, so it’s hazardous for users, too!

David Barnard:

Well, Apple seems to have taken a pretty big step in the right direction today. Manipulative free-to-play games will still thrive on their platform, but it was nice to hear Apple trash them on stage and invest in an alternative.

Jeremy Horwitz:

Apple Arcade promises that players can jump between iOS, tvOS, and macOS devices. Very few games right now support all three of these platforms. But that could change at WWDC thanks to Marzipan cross-platform development as revealed by @markgurman.

Update (2019-03-25): Darshan Shankar:

Today’s launch of Apple Arcade is interesting context for Apple’s behavior last year:

Apple removed Steam Link from the iOS App Store last year. Didn’t want Valve streaming PC games to iOS.

A monopoly is further establishing dominance and shutting out any other marketplace

Leif Johnson:

PS4 Remote Play isn’t all that functionally different from Valve’s Steam Link app, which Apple shot down last May merely a day after Valve announced its upcoming release. Both apps are owned by publishers other than Apple. Both stream games from another device to your iPhone over Wi-Fi connections. Both apps let you buy games through the app-maker’s own store without paying any commission to Apple. They’re so similar, in fact, that I’ve spent much of the last few days scanning my news feed for word that Apple had decided to pull the plug on Remote Play as well.

Previously: Valve’s Steam Link App Rejected From the App Store.

Update (2019-03-26): McCloud:

Another problem - Apple’s doesn’t have gaming DNA. Sony for example uses games to sell hardware and services, but in Sony’s case they make masterpieces like God of War and Uncharted - Apple would be metric-driven, so they’d consider lots of hours played == good games.

Benjamin Mayo:

The game service segment in particular felt like a ten minute chunk that they had pulled straight out of the WWDC slide deck. Announcing that so far in advance that they can’t announce pricing is weak.

Drunken Dogcow:

I also find the assumption that this will be better than the freemium crapfest unconvincing, since the payment model of this service will cause developers to optimize for maximum screen time instead of good gameplay.

Update (2019-03-27): Pierre Lebeaupin:

Re: Apple arcade, one worry is that Apple will have a monopoly on iOS on this kind of service; with video or music Netflix and Spotify have an uneven competition field, but it is at least possible to compete with Apple.

Second, while I will look for games that interest me there, Apple Arcade sounds like a sort of PR display for Apple: “Look over there, this shows iOS isn’t just a haven for just-shy-of-gambling manipulative games”. This isn’t what I need.

What I need is for the iOS App Store to structurally encourage games that allow their developers to earn a living without them having to prey on their users, games like And not just from developers Apple directly funded. Apple cannot be everywhere.

However, I am not worried about the incentives that gives developers: since when are non-gambling addictive games a problem? I am more worried about the fact I won’t really own any of these games. And what about digital preservation?

David Heinemeier Hansson:

There’s something ironic about the fact that Apple Arcade is primarily a solution to a problem Apple created themselves: Allowing games to be utterly ruined by in-app purchases and trashy ads. Carrying both the poison and the cure in the same store is some serious chutzpah 😄

Update (2019-04-02): Peter Cohen:

I’ve been writing about Mac games on and off for 25 years, and I can’t think of a single announcement from Apple that has intrigued me as much as Apple Arcade. It could be a real game changer, or it could be a total disaster.


Games for these devices will all continue to be available independently of Apple Arcade, and the game markets for Mac, iPhone and Apple TV will continue to evolve at their pace. I don’t anticipate that Apple Arcade will be disruptive, but it’s an ambitious and exciting experiment. I hope it succeeds.

Update (2019-04-16): Tim Bradshaw (via Benjamin Mayo):

Apple is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to secure new video games for its forthcoming Arcade subscription service, according to several people familiar with the deals.

Patrick Balestra:

So I guess that’s where part of the 30% cut they take from App Store revenue goes? Work hard on your apps and games to help fund your future competitors 🙃

Update (2019-04-17): Damien Petrilli:

Apple using $500 millions to bring games to their platform shows in some ways that:

- it isn’t viable economically


- it’s too specific (ex: dying opengl, no Vulkan) so expensive to port to.

You wouldn’t need any incentive if your platforms were healthy.

Update (2019-05-17): Dominik Wagner:

Arcade – essentially an attempt to pull all games outside that casual, slot-machine-style genre into their own Netflix-style curated subscription service. There are multiple reasons why I think that is a bad idea, to name a few[…]


Lastly, I do think it is worth calling out the two major games they put on stage on the last two iOS Keynotes. I do see them as further evidence how arbitrary and undecided their direction in the games sector is.

Apple News+

Tim Hardwick:

Access to over 300 popular magazines, leading newspapers and digital publishers is included in each Apple News+ subscription, with topics covering everything from entertainment, fashion and news, to politics, health, lifestyle and travel.

Apple News+ subscribers can access current and past issues and individual articles from magazines such as The Atlantic, Better Homes & Gardens, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, ELLE, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Health, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, People, Real Simple, Rolling Stone, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Travel + Leisure, Vanity Fair, Vogue, WIRED and Woman’s Day.

In addition, Apple News+ includes The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper.

Benjamin Mayo:

The service is branded as News+ and is available today with the release of the new iOS and macOS software updates. $9.99 includes family sharing, so you can share with up to six Family members at no extra cost.


Apple said there are over 5 billion articles read every month inside Apple News, making it the #1 news app in the world. Apple touted its new service as a defence against clickbait with a focus on quality journalism.

I continue to find Apple News to be disappointing. It’s like Apple reinvented the RSS reader with less privacy (everything goes through an Apple tracking URL) and a worse user experience (less control over fonts, text that isn’t selectable, no searching within or across stories). So the idea of content that must be accessed from the app—and likely can’t even be opened in Safari—is not attractive to me.


If I’m reading elsewhere and come across a link to a paywalled article at one of the above publications, is there an easy way to read it using an Apple News+ subscription?

How exactly does Apple News reduce clickbait? The publications will still get more traffic for certain articles. They’ll have statistics for this, as will Apple.

John Gruber:

Unanswered question: does an Apple News Plus subscription get you access to the WSJ website too? Or is only through the News app? I’m guessing it’s only through the news app because how would the Journal get you a login if they don’t get info about News Plus subscribers?

Brian Stelter:

WSJ internal memo says Apple News+ users will only get a “curated collection of general interest news.” To access biz reporting, you’ll still have to subscribe to the WSJ. Memo says “our collaboration with Apple will also extend to areas like video, voice, market data and AI.”

Peter Kafka:

ACTUALLY I just spoke to an Apple exec who believes Apple news subs will get full access to wsj.

Update (2019-03-26): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apple News+ Magazines doesn’t seem to use FairPlay (😐), and preloads the first few pages of PDF-based issues regardless of whether you have a subscription (🤦‍♂️). Thus, you can just rip them out of the cache on macOS and reconstitute the original PDF. Kinda irresponsible

(With a full subscription, there is absolutely nothing stopping somebody ripping the entire source PDF to an Apple News Magazine)

I figured one of the most obvious things about the Texture acquisition would be that magazine publishers could count on Apple to FairPlay their content, something Texture could not do alone. I guess I was wrong? 😅

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It gets better! Even without a subscription, the magazine preview in Apple News downloads a manifest which happens to list all the pages. All of which, hosted in public, sans any protection. So it takes minutes to write a tool that downloads an entire magazine issue page by page


As a publisher, I would be pretty disappointed. There’s a comedy of errors here with things that would have been easily preventable, if anybody thought to consider them. Clearly, nobody expected anybody to look. Apple knows better; all of its other services use FairPlay & auth

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It is hard to imagine Apple shipping a magazine service for iPhone where 50% of the catalog is just PDFs of the print magazines that have to be furiously pinch-zoomed to read anything…

Each PDF page is served individually and has multiple representations; they could easily have served iPhone-formatted pages if the publishers were willing

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It takes just one tiny swizzle in the News app to enable the AppleInternal subscription mode, which authorizes your account for free access to everything. I think somebody needs to have a sit-down with the News team

Federico Viticci:

I went in and counted all the magazines available in Apple News+ – including whether they are using Apple News Format or traditional PDF pages. Here is the full list so far. Enjoy.

Joe Cieplinski:

I get that regular magazine readers are accustomed to just leafing through the whole rag. But from a digital standpoint, being able to save for later seems like common sense.

James O’Leary:

Mac is starting a 2+ year transition where the end goal is Mac apps turn into iOS apps, it’ll be extremely buggy during that period, it’s unclear how that’ll help either platform, and you’re still stuck on 5 year old form factors on a 20 year old OS.

Amol Sharma:

To clarify, based on people familiar with it: Apple subs will have access to almost all WSJ content. But the app will surface stories thought to be appealing to a general interest reader. The thinking is, consumption beyond what’s actively surfaced will be limited.

modest proposal:

so News Corp is hoping that the UX is shitty enough that people paying $30/mo for WSJ won’t cancel for $20/mo savings because it will be too hard to find most of the content?

Dave Nanian:

Not to be an idiot, but what’s the difference between Apple News+ and Texture at this point? Why is Texture still there? Why didn’t existing Texture customers get automatically transitioned to Apple News+?

Paul Kehrer (via Hacker News):

However, instead of simply being locked behind a hardware feature gate, Apple chose to disable it much more forcefully. If you enter China with a US iPhone (e.g. one purchased in the US from a US carrier or at a US Apple Store), using a US carrier, with your phone set to the US region, and with location services disabled for the News app, you will still receive this message upon opening News[…]

To accomplish this censorship Apple is using a form of location fingerprinting that is not available to normal applications on iOS. It works like this: despite the fact that your phone uses a SIM from a US carrier it must connect to a Chinese cellular network. Apple is using private APIs to identify that you are in mainland China based on the name of the underlying cellular network and blocking access to the News app.


This censorship occurs despite the fact that when in China a cell phone using a foreign SIM is not subject to the firewall restrictions (all traffic is tunneled back to your provider first), so Google, Twitter, Facebook, et al all work fine on a non-mainland China SIM even though you’re connected via China Mobile or China Unicom’s network.

Dave DeLong:

Hey @apple, your auto-renewing subscription screen is in violation of guideline 3.1.2 and your app should be rejected.

For starters… no links to privacy policy or support page; no info on how to cancel.

I’m honestly surprised there hasn’t been an extremely public lawsuit against @apple about the huge #DoubleStandards and inconsistent application of the App Review Guidelines.

Seems ripe for a class-action lawsuit, IMO.


Update (2019-03-27): Michael Love:

Also, did none of these publishers’ legal teams think to put in a clause about content protection? (it’s a pretty standard term in copyright licenses) Or is Apple Legal asleep at the switch here + letting the News team ship an app that violates their license agreement?

Martijn de Kuijper:

“Who thinks the new Apple news service is a good thing for the industry and we should get involved?” zero hands raised in a room full of publishers #DISummit

Update (2019-03-28): Brian Morrissey:

One of my favorite publisher stories about Apple News. Publisher had very big ad deal but Apple refused to allow the tracking the advertiser required, killing the deal. The advertiser: Apple.

Update (2019-03-29): Manton Reece:

Federico’s point here gets to the key issue with these aggregation platforms, whether it’s News+, Facebook, or the App Store. When you give up control over distribution, you also give up control over revenue. With publishing on the open web, there’s always an alternative: your own domain name and your own subscribers. (For the App Store, there’s no choice.)

Mark Nunnikhoven:

at WWDC 2018, we learned that @Apple was going to make it easier to develop once & run on iOS &macOS

News is one of the first. you’d think they would’ve been some effort in given the News+ launch


clearly macOS is a 2nd tier effort here

Update (2019-04-02): Juli Clover:

Reading a magazine on a Mac in Apple News+ is a terrible experience. Ew.

Update (2019-04-03): Jon Gales:

Apple News+ is a strange product. It works horribly on an airplane which seemingly would be a huge use case. Here’s what I saw for several minutes before it refreshed to show what I had downloaded.

But I guess I didn’t really download them? It’s like they put zero effort into this.

At least it shows you the list of stories that you can’t access, instead of just an empty screen like the WWDC app.

Update (2019-04-04): John Bergmayer:

amazing tip from @viticci: publications are apparently required to allow you to cancel subscriptions online if you live in california. so just change your billing address to one in California and suddenly a “cancel” button might appear

Update (2019-04-05): John Markoff:

Apple News+ Twitter review: This is not “Cupertino Class” UI. It’s an embarrassing dog’s breakfast. It feels rushed and sloppy. Why would they do something this inept? Also it will likely do real damage to the magazine publishing industry:

Update (2019-04-08): Joshua Benton:

Apple News Plus launched with two U.S. newspapers (The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times) and a handful of digital news sites (including The Skimm, TechCrunch, and verticals from New York magazine). They’re shoehorned in oddly: With a few exceptions they don’t appear inside “Apple News Plus” at all, but rather back in Apple News proper (Apple News Minus?), which is built around articles. But they’re not easy to find and they’re not labeled to distinguish themselves from the free content you’re not paying 10 bucks a month for.

Yesterday, I got frustrated enough trying to find one of those digital news product — “The Highlight” by Vox — that I was driven to tweetstorm.

Dave Nanian:

I am in 100% agreement with @jbenton here. Apple News+ is a UI disaster.

Jon Gales:

A fun game you can play at home: see a WSJ headline and then try and find it on Apple News+. They did an outstanding job at hiding what you want to read, but still make it look like there’s a lot of content.

Pata Ling:

Apple News+ completely misses the point of Magazines. They were referred to as ‘Glossies’; the form is the point. Yet Apple sloppily repackaged it as an rss feed. There is minimal difference between the demoed Essence story in Apple News+ and the free site

And it really is sloppy UX: The title bar is still shown in full screen mode on the Mac News+ app and the status bar and home bar are still shown while reading in iOS — contrast with iBooks. So much for an immersive Magazine experience

Juli Clover:

The user interface looks simple enough, but there are some quirks that have been confusing new subscribers. There’s no clear way to add a new magazine to the My Magazines list, and in fact, you have to search for the title of the magazine in the standard Apple News interface and “favorite” it with a heart to get it to show up reliably in My Magazines or tap the title to get taken to an overview page, neither of which is intuitive.

To further confuse things, some magazines that you’ve read but haven’t favorited will temporarily be displayed in My Magazines, and there are no options anywhere to control what shows up there, nor to customize content recommendations to make them more relevant to one’s interests.


PDFs look all right on iPad, but are difficult to read on iPhone, and the Mac interface for Apple News+ is no better. The single page spread on Mac features small text that’s not easy to zoom into, making reading PDF-based magazines on most devices a less than stellar experience.

Andy Lee:

One thing I like about the Google News app is that when you share a link it links directly to the primary source. In this respect the Google News and Apple News apps are the opposite of what I would have expected if I knew nothing about them.

Update (2019-04-11): Regarding clickbait, Juli Clover:

I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on an Apple News notification so fast

Update (2019-04-16): Adam Clark Estes:

I’ve been using Apple News+ daily since it launched on March 25, and it hasn’t been easy. Right now, the service feels half-baked, and using it is full of frustrations. These include struggles with browsing content from the new Apple News+ partners as well as major problems reading that content, some of which is nothing more than PDFs of magazine pages that don’t display well on small screens. What’s more frustrating is that the paid Apple News+ subscription does not appear to give you full digital access to all of the participating publications. You’re mostly allowed to read the stories that appear in the print editions.

There are parts of Apple News+, like family sharing, that currently do not work as advertised.

Accidental Tech Podcast:

Apple News on John’s Mac is still broken

It crashes at launch.

Tom Harrington:

Apple’s News app includes Apple’s news digest, and unsubscribing is not an option. I’ll stick with apps where I’m in control.

Juli Clover:

When encouraging publications to sign up, Apple promised design resources and templates for customizing content for the Apple News format, but as it turns out, Apple is shutting out some smaller publications and “playing favorites” with larger publishers.


Magazine publishers need to use tools to scan PDFs and convert them into individual articles and advertisements, but the technology is said to be so buggy that each issue needs to be “effectively copy- and design-edited all over again.”

Smaller magazines that don’t have the resources for these full redesigns need to either invest time and money anyway or submit a PDF instead. A lot of the content within Apple News+ at the current time is PDF-based, which does not make for the greatest user reading experience.

Publishers are also said to be frustrated with the “uneven user experience” in Apple News with the split between PDFs and the new Apple News format. “You think of Apple, and they’re so design-conscious,” said one publisher. “This doesn’t feel like that at all.”

Update (2019-04-29): Jeff Carlson:

In the last few days, I’ve responded to two dialog boxes in Apple News about canceling my News+ trial subscription. Both times I said I didn’t want it. Just now, a receipt for another month of News+, auto-renewed.

Simone Manganelli:

Nice to see that even if you don’t pay for Apple News+, the app still inserts News+ articles into your feed that you can’t read, and doesn’t allow you to disable them. :rolleyes: cc @tim_cook

Mike Rundle:

Uhhhhh, don’t open Apple News because they have a MASSIVE Endgame spoiler image featured on the first damn screen. Literally the biggest plot point of the whole movie on the first screen of Apple News right before the “For You” section on the Today tab.

The benefit of human curators?

Update (2019-05-22): Nilay Patel:

Hundreds of people working on Apple News and none of them ever put their phone in landscape

Update (2019-05-24): Dave Nanian:

I was quite excited to read about @panic’s @playdate in Edge on Apple News+, and then I tried it on my phone.

What a terrible, basically unusable experience. Wow. Not quite sure what they were thinking.

John Gruber:

Apple News app doesn’t let you search. Think about that.

Update (2019-05-27): Louie Mantia:

As far as Apple ecosystem subscriptions, I cancel every subscription immediately after starting a free trial so it doesn’t automatically bill me. I tried to do that for News+, and... it will cancel the service immediately if I do. That’s not... how any other trial period works.

Update (2019-06-03): Juli Clover:

I put my email address in our Apple News+ guide for feedback and let me tell you, Texture users absolutely hate Apple News+. I get emails every day about how bad it is comparatively.

Update (2019-06-14): Andy Lee:

Argh. Bad enough that News (at least as of Mojave and iOS 12) does not offer Reader view. If I want to save the contents of an article I open it in Safari and email it to myself in Reader mode.