Inside | Real news, curated by real humans
Inside Apple

Inside Apple (Jan 16th, 2020)

$AAPL (9:41 AM EST January 16): $315.11 (+1.21%) // More info

Is anybody out there watching “Servant” on Apple TV+ (see #5)? I haven’t heard anybody talking about it, and I’ve never been the least bit interested. I don’t like horror stuff — especially about ghost babies — and I was never convinced this show was a good fit for Apple TV+. Now it looks like it might not be a fit in more ways than one, since a film director is suing the creators for stealing her ideas.

— Jon

1. U.S. President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a “phase one” trade agreement yesterday. Many reforms sought by the U.S. are left to be hashed out in later phases, but this first agreement extracts important protections for U.S. companies’ technology and intellectual property in exchange for some reduction in tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S., including Apple gadgets. This agreement may have important political ramifications, but there’s no question that Apple CEO Tim Cook is one of the biggest winners of the now-resolved standoff. — NPR

2. Apple has acquired Seattle startup Xnor.ai, which makes low-power on-device machine learning tools. Its technology was used in the people detection feature on popular Wyze cameras, which was shut down by surprise in November when the contract with Xnor.ai was terminated for unknown reasons. Now we know the reason. Apple’s typical acquisition strategy is small deals (this one was in the $200 million range) to bring good technology and the people who made it in-house; it isn’t usually about those companies' existing products. It isn’t safe to assume they’ll still be working on image recognition for video cameras, for instance. — GEEKWIRE

3. #ThrowbackThursday: The Apple Archive. Sam Henri Gold has just launched the full-fledged website for his collection of hundreds of videos and images of the history of Apple, dubbed The Apple Archive. With deft design and breadth I haven’t seen anywhere else, this priceless collection enables Apple enthusiasts to immerse themselves in any era of the company.

Sam tells 9to5Mac that he was inspired to build the archive when the EveryAppleAds YouTube channel was taken down. He began scouring the internet for material after that and initially made it public last June as a Google Drive folder. Now it has a permanent home on the web, and Sam has big plans to expand it. — UNOFFICIAL APPLE ARCHIVE

4. Apple has retained Lisa Ellman, a lawyer specializing in drone aviation, as a lobbyist in Washington. It’s impossible to say what she’s working on specifically, but it’s not totally out of the blue. Apple has dabbled in the field of drones, using them to collect data for Apple Maps and selling a few personal-use drones in its retail channels. There’s also the small matter of that team of Apple engineers working on satellites, which are a type of unmanned aerial vehicle, after all. — BLOOMBERG

5. Italian-American director Francesca Gregorini is suing Apple and director M. Night Shyamalan in federal court for allegedly plagiarizing her 2013 film "The Truth About Emanuel" for the Apple TV+ horror series, “Servant.” The suit also named Tony Basgallop, the writer and creator of “Servant,” as a defendant. Both stories are about a mother who becomes scarily attached to a realistic doll after losing a baby. The suit alleges even more similarities in scenes, themes, and settings. — REUTERS

6. Apple TV+ has landed a feature-length documentary about the Beastie Boys produced by Spike Jonze. The film will be released in IMAX theaters on April 3 and on Apple TV+ on April 24. The film is described as a “live documentary” because the present-day portions featuring Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond were filmed in front of an audience at Brooklyn’s Kings Theater. — VARIETY

7. As Goldman Sachs reports Q4 earnings, fairly painful numbers are emerging about the expenses the bank is undertaking to launch Apple Card. Its new consumer branch, including Apple Card, drove a 51 percent increase in credit loss provisions for Goldman last quarter, to $336 million. Goldman also had more than $1 billion in legal costs this quarter. Apple struck tough terms with Goldman in agreeing to let it back Apple Card, and it has pressured the bank to go easy on the creditworthiness of (and debt collection from) its customers. Goldman CEO David Solomon reassures investors that “the ultimate decision” about going after Apple Card users who are behind on their payments “sits with us.” — @KIFLESWING

8. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has taken Apple’s side in its dispute with federal law enforcement about compromising iPhone encryption to aid investigations. It recognizes that backdoors weaken (read: destroy) all encryption, and the security risks of that are unacceptable. Moreover, it’s not like law enforcement agencies don’t already use third-party security industry tools to break into phones; they just want to make it a little easier for themselves. — WALL STREET JOURNAL (paywalled) (Read in Apple News+)

9. Newer Fitbit hardware has begun to roll out a latent capability to monitor blood oxygen levels, which Apple Watch can’t yet do. This helps track issues including asthma, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Only Versa, Ionic, and Charge 3 devices support the feature, which uses a combination of red and infrared sensors. — ENGADGET

10. Of all the mysterious parts of Apple, the hardware development pipeline is the most mysterious. If you, like me, have ever wondered how new devices make it through the gauntlet of prototyping, testing, templating, and assembly to become the gadgets in our hands, there’s precious little information out there, but Giulio Zompetti has collected what he can find about the process into this fascinating thread. — @1NSANE_DEV

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.

Subscribe to Inside Apple