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Inside Apple (Nov 21st, 2019)

$AAPL (10:18 AM EST November 21): $263.05 (-0.05%) // More info

People are trying to make Tim Cook’s guided factory tour for Donald Trump (see #1) into another episode of Apple capitulating to authoritarians, but I really don’t think that’s a justifiable take. Apple conceded nothing in this visit besides one day of optics — it didn’t even actually change anything about where the Mac Pro is manufactured. Trump snuck in one lie about being personally responsible for moving an Apple factory back to the U.S., but that has no material political impact. Cook just flattered Trump into making things better for Apple and its customers. What else would you have him do?

— Jon

1. After a tour of a factory in Austin, Texas, at which Flex has been manufacturing the Mac Pro for Apple since 2013, President Trump took credit for personally “open[ing] a major Apple Manufacturing [sic] plant in Texas,” and Apple CEO Tim Cook — standing right there — did not correct the record. Perhaps Trump was referring to Apple’s new Austin campus where Apple broke ground yesterday, but that facility won’t “open” until 2022. The whole day provided incredible opportunities for people with opinions about Donald Trump and Apple to confirm their existing biases, but Trump’s lie about opening a years-old factory to bring “back” jobs that were already in the U.S. — and Cook’s unwillingness to correct it — was the one real shame. It’s impossible not to count this event as a win for Cook and Apple, though. Cook’s long courtship of Trump is working, and Trump reiterated yesterday that he’s “looking” at China tariff exemptions for Apple. — @REALDONALDTRUMP

2. Apple software chief Craig Federighi held a “kickoff” meeting recently to implement changes to avoid a repeat of this year’s buggy operating system releases. The main change is that internal test builds of OS updates will have buggy features disabled by default, so testers can turn them on one at a time to isolate and identify problems. Prior to this change, different teams added features at different times and places, bogging down progress and confusing the issues. — BLOOMBERG

3. #ThrowbackThursday: Paper Macs. Before I could buy my own Mac, I had to make one myself. I made it out of two pieces of paper, some cut up Mac catalogs and magazines, and one six-color Apple Computer sticker. It was probably 1993, when I was six years old. I still have this thing, and it’s just as beautiful to me now as a real Mac was when I made it.

To my great delight, I learned this week that the tradition of making paper Macs is alive and well. Katie Boehret, a former tech columnist who is now comms director at Capital One, tweeted pictures of her son’s handmade paper Mac. I had to reply with mine, to which Boehret’s son responded, “That’s cool!” My paper Mac sported a very handy “Spashel” menu, which you won’t find on macOS anymore, but Boehret’s son’s machine has an always-reliable “Spase” key. — @KATIEBOEHRET

4. Apple has updated the Smart Battery Case for the iPhones 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. They’re available in black, white, and “pink sand,” and there’s a pretty neat new feature: a hardware button that automatically launches the Camera app, even if the phone is locked, and you can hold it down for Quick Take video. — 9TO5MAC

5. Apple has suddenly canceled the premiere of its original film The Banker at the AFI Film Festival tonight because of sexual abuse allegations against Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the real-life subject of the film. Garrett Jr. was initially credited as a co-producer of the film and was part of its press tour, but his credit has been removed from publicity materials and his appearances have been canceled. Apple issued a statement saying, “We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps.” — THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

6. Apple Stores will host a new series of free Today at Apple sessions about learning to code from December 1 to 15. It’s the seventh year of Apple’s Hour of Code series in cooperation with Computer Science Education Week, now renamed Code with Apple. For the first time this year, there’s a session for children aged 3 to 5 that teaches basic programming skills using the characters from the Apple TV+ show “Helpsters”. — 9TO5MAC

7. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro contains a sensor for monitoring the opening, closing, and precise angle of the lid, a first in Apple’s notebooks. We don’t know whether this is just for collecting maintenance data or if it could be used for future OS features. — IFIXIT

8. Apple released its Apple Watch app for menstrual cycle tracking this year, integrated with the Health app on iPhone, and it’s a good start, but there’s room for improvement. Programmer Rosemary Orchard thinks the system would benefit from a dedicated iPhone and iPad app that could display the information differently from the Health app and also provide reminders to log information. — MACSTORIES

9. Apple is launching Apple Music for Business to provide commercial spaces with legal ways to stream music for customers. The music industry loses billions of dollars per year in licensing fees from employees at retail stores streaming background music from their phones on the sly, so Apple is trying to provide compelling features, like custom playlists, to get business to go legit. — WALL STREET JOURNAL (paywalled) (read in Apple News+)

10. Tim Cook worked the phones for a standard Apple sales call on live TV, and there are a few remarkable things about the clip. It’s pretty awkward overall, but that’s because Cook is clearly genuinely nervous. He introduces himself as “Tim Cook, how are you?” with a smile, probably expecting the customer to realize what’s happening, but she clearly has no idea he’s anything other than a standard sales rep, and he just drops it right away and begins helping, which I find sweet and refreshing. He’s flying by the seat of his pants, and when she starts asking questions about the iPod she wants to buy, he pulls out “Apple Services,” because that’s his shtick right now, but he actually manages to turn it into a helpful response. And then — the best part — he doesn’t up-sell her, he actually does the opposite and suggests she get a lower storage size. I think this is a pretty good showing, and it’s clear from the video that Tim Cook genuinely loves Apple. — @BRIANROEMMELE

Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.

This newsletter was edited by Bobby Cherry, senior editor at Inside and a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist who also curates Inside Pittsburgh. Reach him at bobby@inside.com.

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