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My Picks for WWDC

The 2023 WWDC keynote is just a few days away, so before any more last-minute leaks make it out, I wanted to put my line in the sand for what I expect to see Monday.

On this week’s Connected, I made the following picks:

  • Apple will announce a 15-inch MacBook Air.
  • The phrase “One more thing” will be used before The Headset is announced.
  • The announced price of The Headset will be less than $2,500.

That last one generated quite a bit of conversation on the show. The rumors have been pretty consistent that this thing is going to be in the neighborhood of $3,000, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any counter-reporting planted by Apple to adjust expectations. So either The Headset is going to be that expensive, or Apple is going to surprise us, and likes the bar set where it currently is.

This was my “risky pick,” so I admit I’m out on a limb here, but even at $2,500, it is going to be pricey. I can see Apple preferring to rip the bandage off now, so by the time it goes on sale people have had time to digest (and prepare for) the price. If they announce it now, it’ll cloud the coverage of the device, but at least that cloud will have time to clear before pre-orders open.

Here are the rest of my picks on the show:

  • The keynote video runs over 2 hours.
  • The 15-inch MacBook Air will be powered by an M3.
  • Apple reframes an existing feature as being powered by “AI.”
  • Jeff Williams has a major role in introducing the headset.
  • iPadOS 17 gains Lock Screen customization.
  • We see a Mac Pro preview.
  • The next version of macOS is not called Skyline, as Viticci has predicted.

I think all of these are pretty straight forward, and I feel pretty good about most of them.

No matter who wins on Connected next week, WWDC is going to be jam-packed and should be one for the books. I’ll be in Cupertino Tuesday-Thursday and can’t wait to talk about all of this with folks.

Reddit’s API Pricing is Ridiculous →

Christian Selig, the developer behind the Reddit client Apollo got some shockingly bad news from Reddit today:

Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year. Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month, which is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month.

I’m deeply disappointed in this price. Reddit iterated that the price would be A) reasonable and based in reality, and B) they would not operate like Twitter. Twitter’s pricing was publicly ridiculed for its obscene price of $42,000 for 50 million tweets. Reddit’s is still $12,000. For reference, I pay Imgur, a site similar to Reddit in userbase and media, $166 for the same 50 million API calls.

Holy moly.

Eating Disorder Helpline Chatbot Goes Terribly Wrong →

Last week, news broke that the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) planned on firing its staff and volunteer helpline folks and replace them with a chatbot named Tessa, less than a week after the workers formed a union.

That is going about as well as you would think, as Chloe Xiang writes:

As of Tuesday, Tessa was taken down by the organization following a viral social media post displaying how the chatbot encouraged unhealthy eating habits rather than helping someone with an eating disorder.

“It came to our attention last night that the current version of the Tessa Chatbot, running the Body Positive program, may have given information that was harmful and unrelated to the program,” NEDA said in an Instagram post. We are investigating this immediately and have taken down that program until further notice for a complete investigation.”

It’s one thing to have an AI hallucinate and get some simple fact incorrect. This is way, way worse. Shame on the people at NEDA who made this call.

X206 →

Antonio G. Di Benedetto has an in-depth look at the little buttons on the underside of the Apple Watch that make swapping bands so easy:

While I often prefer a universal solution over a proprietary connector, here’s the thing — Apple’s band release button beats the hell out of fiddling with little spring bars and jeweler’s tools. Instead, you just press a near-invisible button, slide your band out, slide another one in, and get a lovely audible click as it locks in. No fuss, no muss; just a simple swap for a different visual vibe to match your style and wardrobe.

But how does it get that precise click, that nearly foolproof snap? Hint: it’s not magnets. My colleague Sean Hollister and I spoke with two ex-Apple engineers who worked on manufacturing the original parts. We quickly learned that it’s kind of the unsung hero of the Apple Watch — despite launching a $1 billion accessory ecosystem and remaining unchanged since its debut eight years ago.

The secret: there are actually three buttons in the Apple Watch, two of which interlock so precisely that Apple had to rethink its entire approach to manufacturing. “The tolerances in there are kind of insane,” say our sources. “It’s super hard to machine. You can’t get tools in there; the angles are all weird.” So the company wound up buying Swiss CNC machines that cost up to $2 million — each — just for the sake of its swappable band system. “It didn’t cut anything else on the watch, just this, that’s all it did.”

As a side note, I love The Verge’s “Button of the Month” concept. I wish I had thought of it.

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