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Newsletter Issue #967

THIS WEEK’S TECH NIGHT OWL RADIO UPDATE

So most of the predictions about Apple’s WWDC were close to the mark, at least that no new hardware would be announced. Of course, there were multiple predictions at first, but without more supply chain rumors about new iPads and Macs, it was pretty clear what would really happen.

Amid stories that Apple doesn’t care much about Macs anymore, it’s easy to be skeptical when macOS appears about to get short shrift at during a developer event. But it’s not as if Apple didn’t go over the essential features of Mojave.

There is one more item of concern, which is that most Macs before 2012 won’t be able to run macOS 10.14, except for some older Mac Pros. But this isn’t a deep dark conspiracy foisted on us by Apple to make your equipment obsolete. It’s about the decision to focus on Metal graphics, and deprecate OpenCL and OpenGL.

Metal is also supported on iOS gear as old as the iPhone 5s, released in 2013, and that and other mobile products with similar support will run iOS 12. So the two platforms are similar in that respect. Doesn’t sound like a conspiracy to me. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. My 2010 MacBook Pro will top out with High Sierra, and that’s it. So I have to begin to count pennies to put together cash for a new MacBook Pro.

Now on last weekend’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, our guests focused mainly on Apple’s 2018 Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) and its June 4th keynote featuring CEO Tim Cook and several members of his executive team. During that event, the wraps were taken off iOS 12, macOS 10.14 Mojave, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5; all will be released this fall. We talked about the splashy new features, and the ones that aren’t so flashy but might impact the user experience. Among the topics discussed were the planned improvements to Apple’s Siri digital assistant, which includes Siri Shortcuts, an easy automation feature reminiscent of AppleScript, and the planned performance improvements of at least 50% to older hardware that runs iOS 12. With macOS 10.14, the new Dark Mode was profiled, along with announced Finder improvements that’ll make it easier to manage cluttered desktops on your Mac. There will also be discussions about what’s forthcoming in tvOS 12, and whether any of it is compelling, and what about the walkie-talkie feature planned for watchOS 5, which will impact Apple Watch this fall?

Our special guests included outspoken podcaster and columnist Kirk McElhearn, who also detailed his concerns about Skype, and a problem he encountered due to a severe lack of security protections. During the second half of the show, we featured commentator Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer, who also talked about the experience of watching his bed-in-a-box expand to several times its size after removing it from the box and separating the plastic wrappings. Jeff also focused some on pop culture, and the latest security problems with Facebook.

On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast:   Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers: As a follow-up to this week’s episode of The Paracast, featuring paranormal researcher Ryan Sprague, Gene and special guest Paul Kimballdiscuss a series of possible ghost encounters that involved Ryan, Greg Bishop, Holly Stevens and other fellow travelers. Paul tries to put these episodes in perspective compared to other paranormal phenomena. So, for example, did they really contact his close friend, the late Mac Tonnies, from the other side? Are such events yet another part of the co-creation scenario, in which we communicate with “them” to produce these sightings? How has Paul’s ghost-hunting ventures influenced his attitude towards such mysteries? A fascinating question, from Ryan, is also considered. Do paranormal events still occur if there’s nobody around to witness them?

SAMSUNG ATTACKS “UNREASONABLE” JURIES

I thought long ago that stories about the years of legal skirmishing between Apple and Samsung had become downright tiring. I’ve barely kept abreast of the original trials, the appeals, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2017 in which the justices decided not to review a lower court ruling which thus upheld the ruling against Samsung.

In 2016, Samsung won in another Supreme Court decision, however, thus throwing out a $399 million verdict against them for allegedly infringing on Apple’s intellectual property. As a result a new trial was ordered to reconsider the award. Be careful what you wish for.

So what happened next? Well, in May following yet another trial, Samsung was ordered to pay even more, $539 million to Apple for violating iPhone patents. You’d think, after all these years, Samsung would take the hint, write a check, and get on with their business. After all, Samsung earns billions in revenue selling parts to Apple, which includes the iPhone X’s nifty OLED display.

Wouldn’t that be reason enough to play nice?

It’s also true that Apple is seeking other suppliers, particularly for OLED displays, and that ought to give Samsung the hint that it should do its best to keep the gravy train running. Then again, the mobile division is different from the components division, so maybe one side isn’t so concerned about the other side.

So on what basis is Samsung appealing? Some obscure legal issue, the judge’s instructions to the jury, some subtle fact that the jury may have overlooked?

No, nothing so mundane or logical. Instead Samsung complains that the jury accepted by both parties made an unreasonable ruling, largely because Samsung believes in its own vision of the facts, that the patents it infringed on should only apply to a small portion of the iPhone, not the entire unit. Specifically, “no reasonable jury could have found that any of Apple’s asserted design patents was applied to Samsung’s entire accused smartphones.”

It was a huge issue in the trial. Samsung offered to pay $28 million because of the small feature set that was involved. On the other hand, Samsung is nonetheless admitting infringement. That is no longer the issue, and evidently the company has no excuses for its improper behavior. Instead, it chooses to argue the importance of the patents it violated. So rather than being a major offense, it’s a teeny weeny offense, a teeny weeny patent violation, as if $28 million is a small award.

A hearing on the matter is set for July, but regardless of what happens with this appeal, the loser will complain and ask for the decision to be reversed. On and on it will go, even though the iPhone and Samsung smartphones have changed considerably since these issues arose.

And the amount of money, though obscenely large to any normal person, is, where multinational corporations are concerned, a drop in the bucket. Apple will not be harmed to get a lower award, and Samsung won’t grow broke if it is force, kicking and screaming no doubt, to pay the full amount.

What is clear is that even a casual glance at Samsung’s original design choices demonstrate the clear iPhone influences, as does an examination of some of the early features. You can also reach similar conclusions when you look at how Google’s Android platform changed from BlackBerry wannabes to iPhone wannabes.

But all that is long ago and far away. Apple has turned the iPhone into a phenomenon, and has influenced an entire industry. Whatever happens from here on, that’s a singular fact that will stand the test of time.

THE FINAL WORD

The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
Managing Editor: Grayson Steinberg
Marketing and Public Relations: Barbara Kaplan
Worldwide Licensing: Sharon Jarvis