Twitter undoes the algorithm (if you want)

Ever since the Twitter timeline algorithm was introduced in 2016 and eventually enabled for everyone, there have been complaints from the most avid users that they missed the ability to sort tweets in chronological order, sans-algorithm. 

For the most part, Twitter hasn't responded to these complaints and saw an uptick in user engagement. Indeed, the algorithm on Twitter is actually pretty good and makes using the service a little easier, since so many tweets are added every minute that it's impossible to keep up with otherwise.

Still, some folks prefer to 'complete' the timeline, a phenomenon I personally don't understand, and scroll all the way back to the last tweet they read. It sounds exhausting, but after Twitter killed off third-party clients recently, there was no real way to do this anymore. Twitter, it seems, has capitulated to these demands after a tweet coincidenally went viral that showed a way to break those suggestions manually. 

In a tweetstorm, Twitter confirmed that a switch to see the latest will reappear in the future:

"We’re working on providing you with an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets. You’ll see us test this in the coming weeks."

It's an interesting shift in policy that might actually get the longest running holdouts to use the main Twitter app again, and keep them happy for a while. What's strange about the shift is Twitter is essentially going around in circles here, recreating the same functionality yet again, rather than shipping new features.

Sometimes it's better to keep your user base happy, however, and doing this appeases Twitter's earliest users so it can focus on other functionality rather than fielding complaints. Something tells me that once it's out there, we'll find something else to complain about.

Another tech billionaire buys up a publication

Technology billionaires seem to love ailing publications. After Jeff Bezos acquired The Washington Post personally for $250 million in 2013, Marc and Lynne Benioff, the former of which is the co-CEO of Salesforce, is now doing similar with an acquisition of TIME magazine for $190 million expected to close in 30 days.

TIME has a big audience, at around 27 million readers, but it's struggled to remain relevant as online media and viral content subsumed its reader base. Compared with online-only publications like Vox Media, which sees up to 50 million unique visitor a month on The Verge alone, it's a different ball game.

The magazine, and online publication's reach goes much wider than its numbered audience, however, with big events and lists like the annual TIME 100 causing a splash every year. Benioff, it seems, wants a piece of that action, and the acquisition values each subscriber at around $95 a pop.

There are a bunch of great interviews and long reads with Benioff about his philanthropy and investments, which matters because the company is enormous at this point and him acquiring a magazine could be perceived as a way to control the narrative in the future. 

It's unlikely, given that Benioff has been outspoken about the state of the media in the past and his desire to fix it, but it's unclear why technology executives would otherwise be interested in acquiring dying media outlets given how much of an uphill battle it would be to help rescue them. 

TIME is a big deal, however, and acquiring it means it might stand a chance in a media landscape that's struggling to grapple with the realities of shrinking advertising revenue, fake news, and general disinterest in paid, physical magazines. I think many of them see it as a philanthropic effort, saving the media from death, but then reality sets in: it's really hard.

Tab Dump

Trump puts tariffs on China that affect smartwatches, bluetooth gadgets and more
This is a weirdly specific move, aimed to hurt China, but calculably excludes damaging Apple at the same time. Smartwatches are hit, but reportedly grants Apple a specific exclusion for the Apple Watch.

Microsoft's new service takes corporate desktop hassles away
I've long wondered when this would arrive, and it's here: you can now pay Microsoft to take care of your desktop computer environment for you. They'll ship you hardware, and all you need to do is throw it on a desk: your users can log in, and they'll take care of the rest. When it's time for replacement, it's the same process. 

This is likely to be hugely popular in the corporate world, where it's still a struggle to keep desktops patched, maintained and so on -- but I'm curious about how realistic the costs are.

Here comes Instagram shopping
Fake watches, anyone?

iPhone reviews are in, here's a few good ones
Check out this one from The Verge that takes on the iPhone XS and XS Max, the Techcrunch review that discusses the long-term plan with the latest iPhones and Joanna Stern's great review for the Wall Street Journal that suggests maybe waiting for the new XR model.

Withings isn't dead, and it has a new watch
Seriously, after all that drama with Nokia acquiring it, then flinging it back to its original founder, it has a new device. I don't know if I would trust the company at this point, but it looks promising.