John Voorhees

1069 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John joined MacStories in 2015. He is an editor and regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iOS affiliate linking app for the iTunes Affiliate Program.

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AppStories, Episode 98 – Mixed iOS/Mac Automation

On this week's episode of AppStories, dive into Federico’s experiments in mixed iOS and Mac automation for controlling his Mac mini, iTunes, and podcasting setup.

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Apple Releases iOS Update to Fix FaceTime Bug and Compensates Teen Who Discovered the Problem

Today, Apple issued an update to iOS that fixes the serious bug that we reported on last week, which could be exploited to eavesdrop on someone using FaceTime. With iOS 12.1.4 in place, Apple has turned Group FaceTime back on server-side too, but it will only work with the updated version of iOS and later releases.

In a statement to MacRumors, BuzzFeed, and other media outlets Apple said:

Today's software update fixes the security bug in Group FaceTime. We again apologize to our customers and we thank them for their patience. In addition to addressing the bug that was reported, our team conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service and made additional updates to both the FaceTime app and server to improve security. This includes a previously unidentified vulnerability in the Live Photos feature of FaceTime. To protect customers who have not yet upgraded to the latest software, we have updated our servers to block the Live Photos feature of FaceTime for older versions of iOS and macOS.

In the security update notes released alongside the update, Apple credits Grant Thompson, the teenager who first reported the bug, along with Daven Morris of Arlington, Texas.

FaceTime

Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation

Impact: The initiator of a Group FaceTime call may be able to cause the recipient to answer

Description: A logic issue existed in the handling of Group FaceTime calls. The issue was addressed with improved state management.

CVE-2019-6223: Grant Thompson of Catalina Foothills High School, Daven Morris of Arlington, TX

According to Nicole Nguyen of BuzzFeed, Apple is also compensating Thompson’s family and making a gift towards his education:


Obscura Updated with Histogram Support and a New Image Viewer

Obscura 2.0 was one of our favorite iOS app updates of 2018, which garnered it a MacStories Selects Best App Update Runner-Up award. Since it was released eight months ago, developer Ben McCarthy has continued to refine the app and add new features such as iPad support, new editing controls, localizations, and a Photos extension. With the latest update out today, Obscura has added a histogram visualizer, a redesigned image viewer, iPad keyboard shortcuts, and more.

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CARROT Weather Is More Customizable and Useful on the Apple Watch Than Ever

CARROT Weather has had one of the top tier Apple Watch apps for a long time now. In the early days of the Watch, CARROT was one of the few apps that loaded quickly and worked reliably. Since third-party complications were introduced, CARROT’s had some of the best. With the latest update though, CARROT has extended its Watch app’s functionality and flexibility even further and added a few other great features too.

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Spotify Acquires Podcast Producer Gimlet Media and App Maker Anchor

Rumors have been circulating for several days that Spotify was in talks to acquire podcast producer Gimlet Media. Today, Spotify announced officially that it is not only acquiring Gimlet but also Anchor, the company that makes mobile apps for podcast creation.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but Recode’s sources say the Gimlet deal is in the neighborhood of $230 million. Although Recode hasn’t reported on the value of the Anchor deal, it also says that Spotify expects to spend up to $500 million this year on podcast acquisitions.

The two deals are part of a broader strategy by Spotify to offer audio content beyond music and use original content to entice people to sign up for its streaming service. In a blog post today, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek elaborated on the company’s strategy:

With the world focused on trying to reduce screen time, it opens up a massive audio opportunity.

This opportunity starts with the next phase of growth in audio — podcasting. There are endless ways to tell stories that serve to entertain, to educate, to challenge, to inspire, or to bring us together and break down cultural barriers. The format is really evolving and while podcasting is still a relatively small business today, I see incredible growth potential for the space and for Spotify in particular.

In just shy of two years, we have become the second-biggest podcasting platform. And, more importantly, users love having podcasts as a part of their Spotify experience. Our podcast users spend almost twice the time on the platform, and spend even more time listening to music. We have also seen that by having unique programming, people who previously thought Spotify was not right for them will give it a try.

Although the Gimlet purchase comes as no surprise following days of speculation, it’s fair to say no one saw the Anchor deal coming. Spotify has grown quickly in the two years that it has offered podcasts and now has the second largest podcast platform behind Apple. By purchasing Gimlet and Anchor, Spotify gains a stable of popular, professionally-produced podcasts as well as the means for anyone with a smartphone to record and share a podcast, covering a broad spectrum of the podcasting world with just two acquisitions.

Ek believes Spotify can bring the same value to podcasting that the company has brought to music:

Just as we’ve done with music, our work in podcasting will focus intensively on the curation and customization that users have come to expect from Spotify. We will offer better discovery, data, and monetization to creators. These acquisitions will meaningfully accelerate our path to becoming the world’s leading audio platform, give users around the world access to the best podcast content, and improve the quality of our listening experience while enhancing the Spotify brand.

To be clear, this doesn’t make music any less important at Spotify. Our core business is performing very well. But as we expand deeper into audio, especially with original content, we will scale our entire business, creating leverage in the model through subscriptions and ads. This is why we feel it is prudent to invest now to capture the opportunity ahead. We want Spotify to continue to be at the center of the global audio economy.

Although Ek hints in his blog post that podcasts are just the start of Spotify’s audio ambitions, what remains to be seen is how podcasts fit within Spotify’s business model. Spotify has studied video streaming and could follow suit making Gimlet’s podcasts like Reply All and other original content available only as part of a Spotify subscription. Spotify also says it will offer ‘monetization for creators,’ which could mean many different things including dynamic ad insertion in podcasts offered on its platform. Whatever approach Spotify takes with podcasting, the coming year will certainly be an interesting one for podcast creators and fans alike.



Jason Snell’s Transcription of Apple’s Q1 2019 Earnings Call

As in past quarters, Jason Snell has prepared a transcript of Apple’s earnings call on Six Colors.

This quarter marked the first time since the iPhone was introduced that Apple saw a year-over-year revenue decline for the holiday quarter. It was also the first quarter since the company announced that it would no longer report unit sales for its major product categories. Although Apple reported less information than in the past, the earnings call included some interesting tidbits including some insights into the company’s services business and hints regarding the company’s anticipated video service, which makes Snell’s transcript a great resource for prognosticators and anyone who would rather read it than listen to the recorded version.

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Apple Q1 2019 Results – $84.3 Billion Revenue, the First Holiday Quarter Decline Since the iPhone’s Introduction

Apple has just published its financial results for Q1 2019, which is the company’s holiday quarter. The company posted revenue of $84.3 billion, which is the first holiday quarter decline in sales since the iPhone’s introduction. Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter’s results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our active installed base of devices reached an all-time high of 1.4 billion in the first quarter, growing in each of our geographic segments. That’s a great testament to the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers, and it’s driving our Services business to new records thanks to our large and fast-growing ecosystem.”

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