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Inside Apple (Jan 9th, 2020)

$AAPL (10:14 AM EST January 9): $308.07 (+1.61%) // More info

I’m eagerly looking forward to “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” on Apple TV+ (see #5), but not because I’m especially attracted to the concept. I’m just glad there’s another show coming to TV+ that I might like, even though it’s not coming out for another month. I know it’s free for a year, but I’m a little antsy about the lack of content. Am I really going to get my money’s worth out of the $49.99/year plan if there are month-long stretches of nothing to watch? How are you feeling about Apple TV+ at this point?

— Jon

1. Chinese iPhone shipments in December grew 18.7 percent year-over-year, according to calculations based on government data. Apple’s turnaround in China accelerated last month from an already-pretty-good iPhone launch season. The success can be attributed to the attractive price of the iPhone 11. — BLOOMBERG

2. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel has invited Sonos to speak before Congress about its charges that Google and Amazon ripped off its speaker technology. The committee is conducting a broad investigation of potentially anticompetitive practices of tech giants, including Apple. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence will appear alongside executives from other second-tier hardware companies struggling against companies with infringing products. — THE VERGE

3. #ThrowbackThursday: iOS before iOS 7 may have lacked some features, but it was solid. I don’t think I would go back, but I certainly miss the reliability and simplicity of iOS 5 and 6. I miss the depth and affordances of the interface most of all, though. In those days, it was possible to dream that iOS would finally liberate Apple power users from having to laboriously teach friends and relatives how to use their devices. These days, the complexity and obscurity make it hard enough without the atrocious bugs gumming up the works.

In a poignant example of just how dependable iOS used to be, internet-person “zed” reports that an iPhone 3GS can pair “flawlessly” with AirPods Pro. The Bluetooth stack was already good enough, and apparently enough of the AirPods’ computing stuff is onboard that the noise canceling modes work, even with the squeeze controls. Ten years separate these devices, and the old phone handles the new headphones perfectly. — @ZED1291

4. The stats released in Apple’s 2019 services recap this week show the company is growing healthily regardless of the iPhone. Crucially, despite declining iPhone unit sales, App Store revenue is still growing at 16 percent year-over-year. With a billion and a half active devices, growth in services (as well as wearables) shows that this ecosystem is stable and thriving, even if it isn’t expanding in size as quickly as it used to anymore. — LOUP VENTURES

5. “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” the first Apple TV+ comedy series, launches on February 7, and creator Rob McElhenney is making the press rounds. He describes the process of developing the concept of a show about video game creators, and it does sound like a funny premise for a show about our era. McElhenney says that Apple was “really helpful” in the process of creating the show. — VARIETY

6. The rollout of New York City subway’s tap-and-go mobile payment system has some hiccups, with people getting unintentionally charged. Some riders are paying using other methods, but the phones in their pockets or bags are double-charging them. Why they have tap-and-go turned on but are using other payment methods is, well, a mystery, but it’s annoying that the MTA is making it difficult to reverse the charges. For what it’s worth, the MTA exec in charge of the program says “We’ve been notified by about 30 customers, out of more than 5,000,000 taps so far, about unintended charges,” so this story might just be amplified social media noise. If you want, you can turn off Express Transit in Wallet settings and still use Apple Pay manually. — GOTHAMIST

7. In her remarks on a CES panel, Apple privacy chief Jane Horvath revealed that Apple scans photos uploaded to iCloud for images of child sexual abuse. It wasn’t previously known that Apple was doing any kind of server-side monitoring of images, but by using the same privacy techniques it uses on personal devices, it’s conceivable that Apple could build ways to identify these images without employees actually directly accessing users’ photos in the clear. — TELEGRAPH

8. Mac community stalwart John Siracusa has finally released his first app on the App Store. He and his friend Lee Fyock built Front and Center to restore some of the window behaviors from classic Mac OS for those who never quite let go of what was great about the old days. — HYPERCRITICAL

9. Apple announced a new photography contest for shots taken with this year’s Night mode feature. A panel of judges comprised of pro photographers and Apple employees will pick five winners to be announced March 4. To submit a photo, post it on Instagram, Twitter, or Weibo using the hashtags #ShotoniPhone and #NightmodeChallenge. — MACSTORIES

10. The tech press continues to dutifully cover the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) every year as if it matters, but does it? It’s a safe rule of thumb that the splashier a CES product announcement is, the less likely the product is to actually ship. As John Gruber writes, it’s obvious why Apple doesn’t participate anymore, because Apple doesn’t do concept designs; they show products when they actually exist. — DARING FIREBALL

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.

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