The End of the iPod

After more than 20 years, one of the most iconic devices of all time is no more:

Over the years, Apple introduced multiple iterations of the iPod, including iPod mini, multiple versions of the iPod nano, the iPod shuffle, and the iPod touch ... Apple said that it is discontinuing the iPod because the iPod's capabilities have been built into the entire Apple product lineup, from the Mac to the iPhone to the Apple Watch.

My favorite iPod was the fourth generation model, released in 2004.

Apple’s Newsroom posts a farewell:

Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry — it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Today, the spirit of iPod lives on. We’ve integrated an incredible music experience across all of our products, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch to HomePod mini, and across Mac, iPad, and Apple TV. And Apple Music delivers industry-leading sound quality with support for spatial audio — there’s no better way to enjoy, discover, and experience music.

For those who missed it, it’s hard to describe how exciting this product line was for pre-iPhone era Apple fans. It truly changed the music buying and listening experience.

The Web is (Still) Almost Entirely Inaccessible to People with Disabilities

People with disabilities face limitations and obstacles online that mirror those in the “real” world prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since 1990 the ADA has guaranteed – among many things – that people with disabilities have access to public buildings, facilities and transit vehicles, reasonable workplace accommodations, and access to sign language interpreters and “other auxiliary aids” in hospitals and clinical settings. 

Today, online experiences for users with certain visual or physical impairments range from infuriating and disorganized to entirely off limits and exclusionary. Most websites, for example, aren’t built or organized to interface well with screen readers, magnification devices, and other tools that assist readers with visual impairments.

In a step forward, more than 170 disability organizations called for the Department of Justice to finalize rules for online accessibility, a process that started in 2012 before being withdrawn in 2012: 

In today’s letter, addressed to assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke, the signees urged “the Department of Justice to maintain this rulemaking process as a priority and finalize a rule by the end of the current administration.” It states that while the DoJ has held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes websites and other technologies critical to accessing a business’ services, it has “failed to define when and how they should be accessible.”

Efforts to come up with these rules have ebbed and flowed. The letter noted that “In 2018, the Department reconfirmed its position that the ADA applies to the internet but never completed rulemakings that were begun in 2010 under Titles II and III of the ADA and withdrawn in 2017.”

The result is an online world where people with disabilities struggle to get their needs met. According to WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)about 97 percent of the 1 million pages evaluated had WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) failures. These issues ranged from using low contrast text and missing form input labels to empty buttons and missing alt text for images.

Compliance with Section 508 is already a very, very big deal to developers and content strategists in the public sector. I’d like to see the same rules apply much, much more widely.

5G Rollout is a Disaster for Airlines in the U.S. But Why Not in Europe?

CNN:

Why is there a potential problem in the United States, but not Europe? It comes down to technical details. 

Mobile phone companies in the United States are rolling out 5G service in a spectrum of radio waves with frequencies between 3.7 and 3.98 GHz. The companies paid the US government $81 billion in 2021 for the right to use those frequencies, known as the C-Band. But in Europe, 5G services use the slower 3.4 to 3.8 GHz range of spectrum. The aviation industry is worried that US 5G service is too close to the spectrum used by radar altimeters, which is between 4.2 and 4.4 GHz. Europe does not face the same risk, according to the industry, because there is a much larger buffer between the spectrum used by radar altimeters and 5G. 

There are other differences in how 5G is being rolled out, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Other countries are using lower power levels, restricting the placement of 5G antennas near airfields and requiring them to be tilted downward to limit potential interference with aircraft. In France — cited by telecom carriers such as AT&T and Verizon as an example of 5G and aviation working seamlessly together — the height of a 5G antenna and the power of its signal determine how close it is allowed to a runway and the flight path of an aircraft, according to a technical note from France’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR). Antennas around 17 major French airports are also required to be tilted away from flight paths to minimize the risk of interference, the agency’s director of spectrum planning and international affairs, Eric Fournier, told CNN. 

The Secret History of the First Real Smartphone 

via The Verge:

In 1998, Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins quit Palm, a company they’d founded, to begin a new one: Handspring. They had a simple goal in mind: to eventually create the smartphone. Years before any of the technology was actually ready, their tiny startup began laying the necessary groundwork for what would become the Treo.

In Springboard: the secret history of the first real smartphone, we document the history of Handspring, from its dramatic beginnings to its tragic end. Along the way, we hear from five of the key players who tried to invent the modern smartphone years before the technology world was ready for it. It’s a story that interweaves the dotcom crash, technological innovations, wireless carrier resistance, and much more.