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iOS 13.0 is out, but why?

iOS 13 is now available to download, and if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’ve already installed it. But if you haven’t, I encourage you to wait. You’ll need to turn off auto-updates in order to keep the install from …automatically updating, though. Barbara Krasnoff explains how to do that here.

You should wait because iOS 13.0 is buggy. Chaim Gartenberg has a review and it’s worth a read, but the headline has it right: iOS 13 review: dark mode, a new Photos app, and bugs.

In fact, Apple quietly pushed up the release date for iOS 13.1 and iPadOS to September 24th — it was originally slated for September 30th. That’s just four or five days from when you’re likely reading this, and well worth the wait. I’d actually recommend waiting longer than five days to make sure iOS 13.1 fixes the various bugs in 13.0.

So the question on everybody’s mind is, well, why release iOS 13.0 at all if it’s only going to last four or five days? Reader, I have no idea. Is it somehow necessary for the successful retail release of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro? Pride? A fanatical desire to meet public deadlines? A desire to ensure current customers don’t have too much FOMO? Did somebody just, like, accidentally hit “send” too soon?

There is one theory out there that Apple shipped a ton of iPhones out of China early to avoid Trump’s tariffs, and so all the iPhones in boxes had 13.0 — Charles Arthur over at OneZero laid out this idea earlier this month. This theory doesn’t explain why Apple needed to update current iPhones, though.

The only plausible theory I’ve seen is that the Apple Watch Series 5 is heading out to customers and it has watchOS 6 installed on it, and watchOS 6 requires iOS 13. So to prevent them from being fancy lozenge-shaped bricks for 5 days, Apple needed to get iOS 13.0 out the door. Credit to Jon Mitchell for pointing this out on Twitter.

Anyway, everything about this whole situation has the odor of a panicked rush to get everything out the door under deadline, and that smells like instability to me. See what the reaction to 13.1 is before updating. As Chaim says, there’s some neat stuff in iOS 13 but nothing so amazing that an extra week will ruin your month. I always advise people not to update the first day unless it’s a serious security update — but nobody ever listens to that advice (including me).

If you have updated, we have some tips for things that might be unfamiliar:

  • You’ll see that there are a ton of apps asking to use Bluetooth on iOS 13. Before you grant it, you should know that this dialog is not about Bluetooth audio. It’s about using Bluetooth for other stuff, stuff that often involves location tracking via beacons. You can deny access and still get Bluetooth audio.
  • App updates in the App Store are in a weird place, here’s where to find them.
  • The new long-press behavior makes getting into the app-moving jiggly mode a little different, but Jay Peters can explain it to you.
  • If you have WatchOS 6 installed, you can delete some Apple apps now — just go into the grid video of your apps with a force-touch and then long-press an app to get into jiggly mode.
  • Have you noticed that the Apple Watch Series 5 kept force-touch while all the iPhones dropped it? Really makes ya think!

Should CEOs be preempting employee climate protests?

Employees at several big tech companies are planning on protesting as part of the Global Climate Strike on September 20th. For example, Microsoft employees are protesting the company’s ‘complicity in the climate crisis’, but Google and Amazon employees are also taking part.

In a COMPLETE COINCIDENCE, Google and Amazon both made big climate related announcements ahead of the protests. Google says it is making the ‘biggest corporate purchase’ of renewable energy. Basically, Sundar Pichai promised to throw a lot of money at the problem:

More than $2 billion will go to building out new infrastructure across the United States, Europe, and Chile as well. This purchase is “equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops,” Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post Thursday. He continued, “In all, our renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.”

Meanwhile, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos went on stage in Washington, D.C. to announce his “Climate Pledge.” Our reporter Justine Calma went to Bezos’ talk and filed an excellent report about his pledge that Amazon will swiftly combat climate change. You should read the whole thing.

Some of the goals seem kind of milquetoast, like 80-percent renewable energy usage by 2024. Others are more ambitious — here’s the centerpiece of the plan:

Amazon will work to drastically reduce its carbon emissions with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040 — all part of an effort to avert some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change. The pledge’s target is 10 years earlier than the most ambitious version of the Paris agreement’s climate goals, which currently aims for the world to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Bezos pledged that Amazon would measure and report emissions on a regular basis, implement decarbonization strategies, and offset any remaining emissions. Other companies are also invited to sign on to the commitment.

Amazon puts a lot of carbon into the air, because Amazon ships (and receives) a lotta stuff and that stuff gets shipped in a lotta planes and a lotta trucks. Bezos seems to have an answer for the last part of that pile of lottas: it will order 100,000 electric delivery vans from EV startup Rivian.

Tesla has eaten up most of the attention in the electric vehicle space, which has meant Rivian has flown under the radar a bit — though it certainly has tried to get attention for itself from time to time. But while Elon Musk struggles to go it alone and make every Model 3 by building robots to do it then giving up on those robots and then burning everybody out, Rivian is happy to make partnerships.

Ford is using Rivian’s tech and Amazon — no surprise here — invested in the company back in February. Are those enough to allow Rivian to scale up to building 100k trucks for Amazon in time without some kind of production hell? I certainly can’t say.

I will note that Rivian has poached some high profile talent and recently announced a new CTO: Mike Bell. Bell has a long history in Silicon Valley, including 16 years at Apple (working on the iMac, Apple TV, and iPhone), three years at Palm (the Pre and webOS), and five at Intel (the new devices group, or NDG).

Given what happened to Palm and Intel’s NDG, that looks like a not great batting average. But: Intel wasn’t super committed to making gadgets directly for consumers and Palm faced a hostile marketplace. Bell is capable, is what I’m saying, and hopefully Rivian is resourced enough to… oh look, a tenuous connection to webOS has taken your dear author Dieter Bohn off the rails. Who could have predicted?

ANYWAY, there are three ways to read these environmental announcements happening just ahead of the protests:

  1. As calculated attempts to take the bite out of the employee actions;
  2. As earnest investments into the future of the planet;
  3. Or, as the poet says: “Why not both ¯_(ツ)_/¯?

Jumping out ahead as Bezos and Pichai did could be risky. If employees see it as meeting or at least acknowledging their demands, all to the good. If they see it as an attempt to defuse or distract from their very real demands, that could be a problem.

Increasingly, workers at big tech companies see themselves not as a community on a mission to change the world through technology, but as, you know, workers at big companies.

Huawei’s big keynote

+ Huawei’s flagship Mate 30 Pro has impressive specs, especially on the camera front

+ Huawei confirms the new Mate 30 Pro won’t come with Google’s Android apps – The Verge

What is the price tag to run a business making flagship Android phones without Google apps? It’s at least a billion dollars, according to Huawei. I suspect it’s more.

Google’s Play Store is an essential part of the company’s Google Mobile Services license, and it’s how the majority of Android-powered handsets outside of China get access to apps. Huawei can’t really work around this very easily, so instead, it’s simply building its own alternative to Google’s Play Store and associated services. Huawei is using $1 billion to fund development, user growth, and marketing of its own Huawei Mobile Services.

+ Huawei Watch GT 2 runs LiteOS and lasts up to two weeks

+ Huawei’s new Vision TV offers 4K picture and a long list of AI powers

More from The Verge

+ Roku announces 2019 device lineup including new Express and faster Ultra – The Verge

Rokus is second only to Sonos as my favorite independent hardware maker, and although I have gripes about some of its product decisions, by and large I like that I can buy something great from a company that doesn’t also make, like, washing machines or phones or search engines.

+ Jeffrey Epstein infiltrated science because it was easy to do it – The Verge

This excellent piece from Liz Lopatto is clarifying. It could be tempting to get lost in the weeds on stories like this, or forget what the big picture is because you see so many small, demoralizing pieces of it every day. But zoom out just a little bit and the ethics are actually crystal clear.

+ Nintendo Switch Lite review: a triumphant return to dedicated handhelds

I have a regular Nintendo Switch and it is objectively a better device for my needs because I want to use it on a TV from time to time. But there is a tiny part of me that is jealous of the Switch Lite because it is so clearly a more refined second-gen product. It definitely gives me hope that Nintendo has fully recovered from its Wii U fever dream and the next Switch product it makes will also be great.

+ Spending $60 on a video game doesn’t make sense anymore – Polygon

Patricia Hernandez has a great piece that is in line with my thoughts on Apple Arcade. If the Netflix model really does come for games, it could be great in the short term but the long term is harder to predict. But maybe anything is better than the crunch mode culture of games development?


One last note: A reader hit me up about yesterday’s essay on Google’s smartwatch chances and asked me about a report in July that suggested that Qualcomm is working on a new chipset for wearables that might actually be good.

I probably should have included it, but the reason I didn’t include it is that I fear it’s a little too early to believe. We spent quite a long time hoping for Qualcomm to improve over the past few years only to be “rewarded” with the Snapdragon 3100, which is not great. Maybe the next one will be, but until Qualcomm proves it by shipping, I don’t think this report changes the fundamental challenges Google faces in smartwatches.


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