Apple World Today News Update: January 11, 2018

screen-shot-2017-10-06-at-9-41-02-am.png

Today's podcast topics deal with history - the history of emoji on iPhones, the FBI's poor opinion of Apple's excellent encryption, and an IPO for a company that Steve Jobs once unsuccessfully tried to buy:

  • The designer of some of the first 500 emoji to be used on iPhones provides a ten-year retrospective on her work
  • An FBI forensic expert frustrated with Apple's encryption refers to the company as "jerks" and "evil geniuses"
  • Dropbox, the file-sharing powerhouse that Steve Jobs once referred to as a "feature, not a product", will be going public later this year

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Thursday, January 11th, 2018.  

Although it seems like emoji have been around forever, it was just ten short years ago that the colorful little icons were added to the iPhone. Emoji had been around in Japan for some time, and in 2008, a graphic design student at the Rhode Island School of Design named Angela Guzman was teamed with another designer to create the first 500 emoji for the iPhone. Guzman recently shared a look at her time with Apple and her emoji design work on a Medium post, and noted that when she was given the project, emoji were nonexistent in the English-speaking world. She was given a quick crash course in Apple design, then started designing emoji with great detail. Those emoji were reviewed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs before being approved — talk about pressure on an intern! Guzman says that “Regardless of how fast I could crank one out, I constantly checked the details: the direction of the woodgrain, how freckles appeared on apples and eggplants, how leaf veins ran on a hibiscus, how leather was stitched on a football, the details were neverending. I tried really hard to capture all this in every pixel, zooming in and zooming out, because every detail mattered.” She notes that the happy poop emoji was reused as the top of the ice cream cone, and that more detailed emoji like the “dancer with red dress” were left until the end. The emoji designed by Guzman and her project partner were launched in Japan in November, 2008, and the rest is history. 

It doesn’t appear that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple are good buddies. FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley was speaking yesterday at the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan, and referred to the company as “jerks” and “evil geniuses” for making cryptography on the iPhone so strong that it’s impossible for FBI experts and even Apple itself to break it. In particular, Flatley complained that the company recently made it harder to guess passwords, saying that “password attempts speed went from 45 passwords a second to one every 18 seconds” when using a brute force method to attempt to crack a password. He said that “Your crack time just went from two days to two months”, then asked the rhetorical question “At what point is it just trying to one up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?”.  Cybersecurity experts and civil libertarians are happy with iPhone encryption, since it keeps the average user’s data safe from hackers and authoritarian surveillance. Current FBI director Christopher Wray started a war against encryption earlier this week, calling it an “urgent safety issue”. We haven’t heard the last on this topic yet. 

A company that Steve Jobs once wanted to purchase is going public soon. File-sharing service Dropbox has filed for an IPO, with an estimated worth of about $10 billion. The company now has annual revenues of over $1 billion and has been reliably profitable, so it will most likely be a popular IPO and could trade higher once the stock is public. Steve Jobs met with Drew Houston of Dropbox back in 2011, and after Houston told Jobs that the company wanted to stay independent, Jobs apparently got a little angry. Houston said “…he started trolling us a little bit, saying we’re a feature, not a product…but then he was like, ‘Alright, well I guess we’re gonna have to go kill you, basically.” Jobs calmed down after that point and actually gave Houston business advice and answered questions. Seven years later, that company that is a “feature” is going public.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.