Archive for April 12, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

App Store Subscription Confirmation Alert

David Barnard:

Whoa! Apple added an additional confirmation step for subscriptions. This new alert comes after you confirm with Touch ID/Face ID. I hope they address this in a more elegant way in iOS 13, but I’m thrilled Apple took a definitive step to curb scam subscriptions. 👏🏻

This probably isn’t needed on Face ID devices where you have to double click the side button to confirm a subscription, but this should cut down on accidental subscriptions on Touch ID.

I’m still baffled it took Apple so long to take action on this, but it still says a lot that they made a change like this mid iOS 12 instead of waiting for iOS 13.

This change is likely to prevent $10M+/mo in accidental subscriptions.

Ryan Jones:

I literally went through your flow 2 hours ago to compare it to apple’s and thought you added that. Until I tried Facetune. Here’s the kicker though.... it’s not on apple Music


Or only Apple gets to do this?

Ryan Jones:

Apple remotely turned off the extra Subscription confirmation modal last night.

(Apps were seeing 20% subscription trial reductions.)


This means a significant profit was being made due to a lack of understanding by the users, which I don’t think is an ethical business model

Ryan Jones:

Now, there may be a reason, like fixing a bug or making it better. But it’s 100% off right now after ~1 week of being on.


Update (2019-06-18): Federico Viticci:

Never seen this alert before – Apple now tells you if an app you’re deleting has a subscription still active. Good move.


Peter Kafka (tweet):

Disney+ will launch in the US on November 12, for $7 a month. It will have a very large library of old Disney movies and TV shows — crucially, including titles from its Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars catalog — along with new movies and series made exclusively for the streaming service. It won’t have any ads. And it will allow subscribers to download all of that stuff, and watch it offline, whenever they want.

For comparison: A standard Netflix subscription now costs $13 a month.


Disney told investors it expects to have 60 million to 90 million subscribers worldwide for the service by the end of 2024. Netflix currently has 139 million subs.


Disney+ will also feature shows and movies that previously belonged to 21st Century Fox, which Disney mostly absorbed this year. That means the service will also be the place to watch The Simpsons, for starters.

John Gruber:

I know Apple News+ and Apple Music are both $10/month, and Apple Arcade might cost $10/month, but I don’t think Apple expects to charge $10/month just for Apple TV+. I continue to think Apple TV+ will be something they add on for “free” when you pay for some sort of bundle with other Apple subscriptions — or maybe it will cost $10/month if it’s the only thing you subscribe to from Apple, but they know that most people will get it as a “free” bonus.

Damien Petrilli:

Apple forgot that to use any service you need hardware. They could have been the best hardware provider for all services.

They had everything to do it right. Instead they decided to compete (poorly) on services while degrading hardware quality/value proposition.

Imagine if Apple wasn’t doing its shitty anticompetitive behavior to promote their services and instead was THE platform to get all services well integrated together.

Michael Love:

I think Disney’s entry helps basically every other streaming player except Netflix, because it makes it much harder for Netflix to ascend from ‘channel’ to ‘platform’ - they won’t be able to keep increasing prices / volume of programming until they replace the entire bundle.

Joe Cieplinski:

Clearly, Disney’s back catalog is a big plus. But most of what I watch nowadays is new original TV programming. Until they have some can’t miss shows for me, I’m not altogether interested in paying monthly for the occasional re-watch of a Star Wars flick.


US Broadband, OS, and Browser Stats

Devin Coldewey (via Dan Luu):

For instance, the FCC report suggests that broadband, as it is currently defined, is not currently available to around 25 million people. Sounds reasonable. But Microsoft’s data says that some 163 million people “do not use the internet at broadband speeds.”

Those aren’t the same thing, obviously, but you’d think if a person had broadband available they would use it at least now and then, right?

Erie Meyer:

It’s wild to me that

- There were 3.57 billion visits to government websites over the last 90 days
- We know that because it’s public thanks to
- We also have hard data about OS, browser + version, and format data about how Americans are using the web


macOS Hot Corners

Rose Orchard:

A great feature of macOS that we don’t discuss often is Hot Corners — the ability to swipe your mouse into a corner and have something happen. For example, your screensaver starts, notification center appears, launchpad shows you a list of apps, etc. This setting is no longer enabled by default, so many people are missing out on this great feature!


What is more, you can add a modifier key (Command, option/alt, shift, or control) to a Hot Corner, which will only activate if you hold that key while swiping your cursor into the corner. This makes it hard to activate Hot Corners by accident, so it’s ideal for something like locking your screen. You can also use multiple modifier keys at once if you like. Unfortunately, you can’t set multiple commands per corner with different modifier keys.

I use hot corners for Put Display to Sleep, Mission Control, Application Windows, and Notification Center.

First Black Hole Image


At the heart of the Milky Way, there’s a supermassive black hole that feeds off a spinning disk of hot gas, sucking up anything that ventures too close -- even light. We can’t see it, but its event horizon casts a shadow, and an image of that shadow could help answer some important questions about the universe. Scientists used to think that making such an image would require a telescope the size of Earth -- until Katie Bouman and a team of astronomers came up with a clever alternative.

MIT News:

The solution adopted by the Event Horizon Telescope project is to coordinate measurements performed by radio telescopes at widely divergent locations. Currently, six observatories have signed up to join the project, with more likely to follow.

But even twice that many telescopes would leave large gaps in the data as they approximate a 10,000-kilometer-wide antenna. Filling in those gaps is the purpose of algorithms like Bouman’s.


Finally, Bouman used a machine-learning algorithm to identify visual patterns that tend to recur in 64-pixel patches of real-world images, and she used those features to further refine her algorithm’s image reconstructions. In separate experiments, she extracted patches from astronomical images and from snapshots of terrestrial scenes, but the choice of training data had little effect on the final reconstructions.

This particular algorithm was not used in the image reported this week; it sounds like it was a prototype that proved the approach.

Abigail Hess:

On Wednesday, after 10 years of planning and scientific investments totaling over $50 million, researchers released the first-ever image of a black hole. The image is a feat of modern science — experts say it’s the equivalent of taking a photo of an orange on the moon with a smartphone — and international collaboration. Over 200 scientists across the globe contributed to the project.


“The team collected about five petabytes of data, and one petabyte is a thousand terabytes,” explains Bouman. “Your typical computer has maybe one terabyte or so. So that would be like 5,000 typical laptops of data.


“We spent years developing methods, many different types of methods — I don’t think any one method should be highlighted — because most of all, we were afraid of shared human bias,” says Bouman.


For this reason, the computer scientists broke into four teams and did not communicate while they were analyzing the data. After months of the teams working independently, they all converged in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and ran their algorithms in the same room, at the same time.

Michelle Lou and Saeed Ahmed:

Using imaging algorithms like Bouman’s, researchers created three scripted code pipelines to piece together the picture.

They took the “sparse and noisy data” that the telescopes spit out and tried to make an image. For the past few years, Bouman directed the verification of images and selection of imaging parameters.


The result? A groundbreaking image of a lopsided, ring-like structure that Albert Einstein predicted more than a century ago in his theory of general relativity. In fact, the researchers had generated several photos and they all looked the same. The image of the black hole presented on Wednesday was not from any one method, but all the images from different algorithms that were blurred together.

Update (2019-04-16): Akash lists the Python code that was used.

The Astrophysical Journal paper is here (via Matplotlib).

The Physicist has some background information (via Hacker News).