Apple May Test iPhone Users' Loyalty If It Dumps The Headphone Jack

A man listens to an iPhone.

Bill Hinton /Moment Editorial/Getty Images

If you’re like me, somewhere in your house you imagine there must be a pile of lost white iPhone earbuds. The pile is probably right next to the stack of single socks. It’s one of several reasons I never liked wireless Bluetooth headphones. They’re smaller and even easier to lose.

But, if the rumors are true — and most likely they are — Apple is about to get rid of the headphone jack on its latest smartphone, the iPhone 7, and tip the scales toward wireless Bluetooth headphones. The company has scheduled a press event in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“Getting rid of the headphone jack is panic worthy,” says usability expert Joshua Porter of the design firm Rocket Insights. “It’s going to be a hard argument to make.”

Porter says like a lot of iPhone users, he personally has several headsets that will immediately become obsolete unless there is a way to connect them to the new iPhone.

Apple is likely to make an adapter that lets users plug their earbuds into the lightning jack. But Apple users with headphones aren’t going to like it if they have to drop extra cash on buying a special adapter.

Porter thinks Apple could entice them into buying the iPhone 7 with some nice extras in the box like a free adapter. “That would be a really amazing gesture … and would do a lot in terms of goodwill.”

Porter isn’t the only usability expert scratching his head over Apple getting rid of the headphone jack. Kara Pernice, a senior vice president at the user experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group, thinks this change could really sit badly even with loyal Apple users.

“When it looks to the customer like this change is not benefiting me and only benefiting Apple, that’s when people snap,” she says.

Pernice thinks Apple may be getting rid of the headphone jack to make important internal changes to the phone — like longer battery life. “But, most end users don’t think that way,” she says. “Most people don’t understand why the change is happening.”

Pernice predicts that a lot of people won’t upgrade if it means spending extra money on adapters and Bluetooth headsets.

But Apple does have a track record of phasing out what seem like popular technologies at the time. The company was among the first to get rid of CD drives and Ethernet cables. It nixed its 30-pin connector for the lightning connector. And none of that seems to have hurt the company’s sales.

“Apple has a very strong history of doing whatever it wants,” says Julie Ask, an analyst with Forrester Research. “And they typically still do OK. They typically do a pretty good job of telling consumers what they need and what they don’t need and leading the way into the future.”

Bluetooth headphones are making headway. In June, sales of Bluetooth headsets brought in more revenue than non-Bluetooth for the first time, according to NPD.

Apple has sold over a billion iPhones worldwide. Still, since the death of founder Steve Jobs in 2011, many critics say Apple has lost its edge. A decade ago, Nokia and BlackBerry were the leaders in smartphone technology. Usability expert Pernice says getting rid of the headphone jack “could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

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Chicago Passes Threshold of 500 Homicides in 2016

Father Pfleger of St. Sabina Church hangs the American flag upside down outside his church Aug. 31 as demonstrators protest the recent uptick in homicides across Chicago. Thirteen people were fatally shot over the weekend, bringing the city’s annual toll to at least 500 murders. Joshua Lott/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Chicago cemented its reputation as the murder capital of the country with 13 fatal shootings over the Labor Day weekend, bringing the city’s annual toll to 500 killings. That’s more homicides this year than the nation’s two largest cities—New York and Los Angeles—combined.

The bloody weekend capped off a particularly violent month of August, in which 92 people died — the most in a single month since August 1993, according to USA Today.

That publication added these grim statistics:

The city is on pace to record well over 600 murders for 2016, a threshold it has not reached since 2003. In the 1990s, in the midst of gang violence driven by the crack-cocaine epidemic, Chicago regularly recorded more than 700 murders per year.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the number of homicides actually exceeds 500:

After this past weekend’s violence, homicides now stand at 512 for the year, according to data collected and analyzed by the Tribune. There were 491 homicides all of last year. More than 2,930 people have been shot this year.

Tribune data is usually higher than comparable numbers provided by the Chicago Police Department because the department excludes killings on area expressways and those that are considered justifiable homicides.

As NPR’s David Schaper reports for our Newcast, in addition to the 13 people slain, another 42 were shot and wounded during the week, the majority in the last hours of the long weekend.

Thirty-one of those victims, including nine of those killed, were shot in just a 21-hour period between 6 o’clock Monday morning and 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Most of the shootings are concentrated in a few neighborhoods on the city’s west and south sides that are plagued by high rates of poverty, unemployment and a lack of community investment.

Chicago Police call most of the shootings gang related, but they often involve interpersonal conflicts between members of rival gang factions or neighborhood cliques; and many are in retaliation for earlier shootings.

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An Economic Mystery: Why Are Men Leaving The Workforce?

An employee moves cement blocks at the Cement Products Manufacturing Co. facility in Redmond, Ore. Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the labor force since the 1960s. Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Bloomberg via Getty Images

At 4.9 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren’t working or even looking for a job.

It’s a trend that’s held true for decades and has economists puzzled.

In the 1960s, nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. That’s fallen over the decades. In a recent report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers put male labor force participation at 83 percent — men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force and had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce.

“One in six prime-age guys has no job; it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, an economic and demographic researcher at American Enterprise Institute who wrote the book, Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis. He says these men aren’t even counted among the jobless, because they aren’t seeking work.

Eberstadt says little is known about the missing men. But there are factors that make men less likely to be in the labor force — a lack of college degree, being single, or black.

So, why are men leaving? And what are they doing instead?

They might be like Romeo Barnes. He lives in District Heights, Md., and his last job as a Wal-Mart greeter ended 11 years ago. He’s 30, black, single and has cerebral palsy.

“I have able-bodied friends who can’t find work, so it’s not just me,” Barnes says.

He says he’s sought administrative jobs, but says his disability and not having a college degree hold him back.

“Men are traditionally known for labor work. The lower-educated guys have to do stuff like that. And that’s being taken away because we have machines,” he says.

Indeed, economists say technology and overseas competition is displacing many jobs. The number of people collecting disability insurance, like Barnes, has also increased.

AEI’s Eberstadt says criminal records may also play a factor. Some 20 million Americans have felony convictions — the vast majority of whom are men. But, he says, it’s hard to know how big a factor that is, because the government doesn’t keep data on their employment status.

“Something on the order of one out of every eight adult men has got a felony conviction, and we don’t have the slightest clue as to their employment patterns,” Eberstadt says.

What the missing men aren’t doing in large numbers is staying home to take care of family. Forty percent of non-working women are primary caregivers; that’s true of only 5 percent of men out of the workforce.

But they do exist; Virginia Beach dad Jory Rekkedal quit his IT job a year ago to take care of his two girls — a gig he has loved. “I wasn’t going to go back to work. It was almost going to just be a nice transition into retirement for me — a very early retirement. I mean, I’m only 36 years old.”

And if he does, he worries about the prospects.

“Things move really, really, really quick and I’m worried that if we can’t make it work, that I’m going to go looking for a job and they’re going to say two years out of it, ‘Sorry brother, you don’t have what it takes to work here anymore.’ ” Rekkedal says.

Tara Sinclair, chief economist for job-search site, says brawny jobs are being replaced by brainy ones, and that trend doesn’t favor men.

“The question is, is this the new normal? Or, with the right economic conditions, the right opportunities, will those people come back into the labor market?” she says.

Sinclair says if men keep exiting the workforce, that could strain the social safety net and hold back economic growth.

And some, like Richard Hintzke, say they hope to go back to work. He shuttered his Detroit home-appraisal business in 2009 after the housing market crashed and considered his options.

“You know, it looked like the sky was falling, so if it was like if there was ever a good time to disengage, I said this is a good time,” he says.

Hintzke, who is 53 and doesn’t have children, relocated to Austin, Texas, and has lived off income from investment properties.

He says he misses the camaraderie he felt while working and the feeling of contributing something. These days, he’s mulling a new career in holistic healing. But once you’re out of work for a while, he admits, it’s easy to lose momentum.

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Man Admits To Abducting And Killing Jacob Wetterling

An undated file photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office shows Daniel Heinrich, who admitted in court Tuesday to the 1989 killing of Jacob Wetterling. AP hide caption

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Answers are finally emerging about the abduction of an 11-year-old boy in Minnesota back in 1989, as Danny Heinrich has admitted to kidnapping and killing Jacob Wetterling. In a Minneapolis courtroom, Heinrich also said he kidnapped and sexually assaulted another boy.

Heinrich made the statements as part of a plea deal related to child pornography charges, on which he was indicted last December. All but one of those counts were dropped as part of the deal.

Wetterling was taken at gunpoint by a masked man who allowed Wetterling’s brother and a friend to get away. The three children had been riding bikes near their house in a rural area in central Minnesota.

Heinrich aired disturbing details about the case during a change-of-plea hearing Tuesday that saw the 53-year-old acknowledge his crimes against Wetterling and Jared Scheierl, who was 12 when he was kidnapped months before Wetterling. Wetterling’s parents were present.

Minnesota Public Radio’s Brandt Williams followed the proceedings. From his story about today’s hearing:

“Heinrich said he confronted the children with a snub nosed revolver. He handcuffed Jacob behind his back and drove away as Jacob asked, ‘What did I do wrong?’

“Heinrich admitted sexual abusing Jacob and then shot him twice.

“Heinrich said he left Jacob’s body and went home and went back later to hide the body, using a bobcat to dig a hole. He returned to the site a year later to discover Jacob’s jacket partially exposed. He picked up Jacob’s remains and took them to new spot.”

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What's Behind South Korea's Shake Shack Fever?

South Korean customers place orders at the opening day for Shake Shack’s store in Seoul’s hip Gangnam district, July 22. Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images

South Korea’s got Shake Shack fever.

Since opening its first outlet in Seoul on July 22 – in the Gangnam District, known as the city’s Beverly Hills — the popular American burger chain has attracted incredibly long lines. On its first day of business, around 1,500 people lined up for two to three hours before the store’s 10 a.m. opening time to be the first to sample its burgers, according to The Korea Herald, a local newspaper; some had been there all night.

More than a month and a half later, the fever has not died down. The Seoul Shake Shack reportedly serves an average of 3,000 customers daily – which works out to about four burgers per minute. When sizzling summer temperatures hit Seoul, the restaurant dispatched a nurse to prevent heat-related illness among those waiting in line, and also provided free bottled water and sun-blocking umbrellas, according to local reports.

What accounts for Koreans’ Shake Shack frenzy?

For starters, Shake Shack is the latest American novelty – and Koreans love the taste of novelty. For years, Korea has been brimming with American flavors, from Burger King to McDonalds’, Pizza Hut, TGIF, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme. But many of these fast-food outlets have now become firmly entrenched in the local food scene – McDonalds’s, for instance, has been in Seoul for 28 years – so they’ve lost their shiny new sheen.

As recounted in Golden Arches East, a chronicle of McDonald’s rise in East Asia edited by anthropologist James Watson, fast-food restaurants that opened in the region in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s tended to be cleaner, brighter and less crowded than similarly priced local establishments. (And they had air conditioning, too, which their same-price counterparts often lacked). All of which help explain why fast food established itself as a popular choice among east Asia’s younger people and the emerging middle class.

American fast-food franchises arrived in South Korea as the economy was booming, helping to feed a growing middle class. They were viewed as modern and chic and a symbol of American-style prosperity. As a young man in Seoul in the 1990s, one of my favorite spots to take dates was KFC.

More than a month and a half after Shack Shack opened its first store in South Korea, in the Gangnam district of Seoul, the lines remain incredibly long, as our photographer confirmed last Friday. Haeryun Kang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Haeryun Kang for NPR

As these fast-food franchises have thrived, they’ve also tweaked their menus to reflect local tastes. For instance, while McDonald’s started out in Korea with the same menu it had in the U.S., it now boasts a bulgogi burger, which my U.S.-born kids love.

Fast-forward to 2016, and the older fast-food restaurants no longer enjoy the same status among Koreans. But Shake Shack is a new brand from America – selling a rather luxurious burger, by fast-food standards (a burger, fries and shake costs $15 in Seoul, versus about $5 for a McDonald’s meal).
That new, “luxe” status help give Shake Shack a heightened sense of cool.

Right now, Shake Shack’s offerings in Seoul are the same as one might find in America: burger, fries, milkshakes, etc. But if its popularity continues – who knows? Perhaps a Korean fried chicken sandwich might appear on the menu.

Interestingly, one of my Korean university students in Seoul – where I spent part of the year researching the leisure culture of Korea — told me he saw Westerners working in the kitchen at the Shake Shack. For him, that gave the whole enterprise a more authentic sense of Americanness.

Going to popular eating places like Shake Shack has also become its own genre of entertainment — especially among younger Koreans. Waiting in line becomes part of the fun because it builds up anticipation. While the first wave of American fast food chains took off in South Korea because they were associated with American modernity, Shack Shack seems to be thriving here in part because of Korean modernity. The world is currently in the grips of Korean cool, and as the rapper Psy made famous in 2012, its epicenter is Gangnam — a place where the hip go to be seen.

Which brings me to another factor behind the long lines: the allure of “foodstagramming” (in Korea, it’s called meok-stagram, a combination of the words eat, or meok-da, and Instagram). As in the U.S., food photo sharing is prevalent in Korean social media – it’s a way of showing off. And trending foods like a Shake Shack burger could help give you extra social media cache. As is true for their American counterparts, Korean foodstagrammers use photos to create a carefully curated image of the good life – and that includes being among the first visitors to the latest offering of American fare.

It is too soon to tell when the Shake Shack fervor will cool. But the excitement of this new taste does not seem to be dissipating any time soon: A second Shake Shack restaurant is slated to open in Seoul in November. And the company says it plans to have a total of 25 stores throughout Korea by 2025.

A native of South Korea, Sangyoub Park is an associate professor of sociology at Washburn University. He spent part of this year in Seoul studying the leisure activities of Koreans.

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After Attack On Dallas Police, Recruits More Committed To Law Enforcement

Trainees participate in a tactical defense class at the Dallas Police Basic Training Academy. The officer deaths in July strengthened the camaraderie among recruits training at the academy. Yvonne Muther/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Yvonne Muther/NPR

In the hallway of the Dallas Police Basic Training Academy, students are greeted by a row of paintings. There is a portrait hanging of every Dallas PD officer who has died in the line of duty. Soon there will be four more — the victims of sniper Micah Xavier Johnson, who ambushed and shot them during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 7.

In the weeks after the fatal shootings, Dallas Police Chief David Brown invited people to join the force and help resolve the problems that led them to protest in the streets. And many responded to his plea. The city’s recruiting division plans to test hundreds of applicants over the next few months, and the Dallas Police Department wants to hire 529 new police officers by 2019.

But in this climate of heightened tension, what might attract new recruits to the force?

“I need to get involved”

There were 73 recruits training at the Dallas police academy when the shootings happened in July. The demographics of the group are diverse — 37 percent Hispanic, 18 percent African-American.

The officer deaths strengthened the camaraderie among these recruits, says Sgt. Angela Shaw. Every student attended a funeral of one of the fallen officers, and they seemed even more determined afterward to become police officers.

Recruit Loren Bolton based his final decision to join the police force on a similar attack. In June 2015, a heavily armed man shot the front of the police headquarters in Dallas and placed bombs in the parking lot. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

“That was the day that did really wake me up,” he says. “It made me go, ‘You know what? I need to get involved, I need to do this.’ ” Bolton quit his PR job and signed up.

The hallway of the Dallas police academy is lined with portraits of every Dallas officer who has been killed in the line of duty. Yvonne Muther/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Yvonne Muther/NPR

Sugeny Genao, 34, is a single mom raising three boys. She applied to the academy because she “wants to be a good role model for younger people or people who do not have any sense of direction, to show them, ‘Hey, if I can do it, so can you.’ “

“I am ready to die for my community”

At the police academy, the average age of the recruits is 27. Some have a military background, but what unites them is their motivation.

“I am really excited about getting on the streets because I am bringing the good to every situation, I am ready to die for my community, if I had to,” Bolton says. “To protect others, that is why I am here.”

Many of these recruits and officials believe the nation’s racial tensions can be overcome.

But at least one trainee, Keith Lee, acknowledges that individual policemen in other cities have reacted poorly in the past.

“Is it right? No. It should not be happening,” the 26-year-old says. “You always want to go with the lowest level of force necessary.”

Ivory Dotson also points out that there is discretion in every decision officers make.

“As far as ethnic or racial features are concerned, when you see a vehicle making a traffic violation, especially at night when most of the younger officers work, you do not necessarily see the color of the violator, you just see the violation while it happens,” says Dotson, who is African-American. “Then you treat them like you would treat everyone else. You would treat them how you would want one of your family members to be treated if they are stopped by an officer.”

However, the decision-making process can be subjective, and today there is more public scrutiny than there may have been decades ago.

Sr. Cpl. Christopher Allen says in some parts of Dallas, people lean out of five-story brownstones and they have their own perception of encounters between police and community.

“Should it be video-recorded, the video might be played out of context, and officers need to be as fair as possible and articulate what they are doing as well as possible,” he says. “Body cams are not mandatory for Dallas police officers. But once you are assigned to wear one, you have to wear it, and microphones in vehicles are standard.”

Hill Martin, a 25-year-old recruit, is in favor of wearing and using body cams.

“I think videos help to keep people telling the truth, because then, from the citizens’ side and from the officers’ side, you have indisputable proof,” Martin says.

“The bad apples get all the attention”

In Dallas, the frequency of officer-involved shootings has decreased over the past few years. “We work real hard on that,” says Deputy Chief Jeffrey Cotner. “We’ve done de-escalation training since 2012. And we have seen the benefits of that training, in our day-to-day use of force — all that has reduced. Using the firearm is the last resort, and that is how we teach it.”

So far this year, there have been eight of those incidents. One happened on Aug. 25 during a traffic stop. The suspect had a firearm and took off running, while the police officer shouted “drop the gun.” All of this was captured by microphone. The man then turned around and aimed his weapon at the officer, who shot him. The suspect died in the hospital.

“It was by the book,” says press officer Monica Cordova. “[An officer] can’t wait to be shot first.”

And while formal complaints of racial profiling in traffic stops in Dallas dropped from 14 in 2011 to 10 in 2015, police recruit Tray Chapa hopes that the perception of law enforcement improves.

“Right now, the bad apples get all the attention,” the 27-year-old says. “And the good police officers that do their job, that don’t worry about a person’s skin color, they don’t get as much attention.”

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A Ban On Black Hairstyles Raises Deeper Issues About Race

Zia Simpson, a student and sales assistant in Cape Town, says even her father tells her to tame her Afro. “That generation fought against apartheid, but they still carry around the mentality that green eyes look better on a person, that straight hair looks better on a person.” Alan Greenblatt for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Alan Greenblatt for NPR

For many teenage girls, nothing is more sensitive than the way they feel about their appearance. In South Africa, race has been added to that delicate equation.

Last month, black students at the prestigious Pretoria High School for Girls protested a clause in the school’s code of conduct that banned wide cornrows, braids and dreadlocks. It wasn’t a new policy, and many South African schools have enforced similar rules before. But this time, girls pushed back — and their complaints touched a nerve.

The school, which was an all-white institution until the mid-1990s, dropped the restrictions a few days later — but not before triggering a debate across the country.

“They make it out to be about grooming, but it is about race,” says Lesley Chandata, a black woman from Zimbabwe who waits tables at a pizza parlor outside Cape Town.

The crux of the complaints from students and their supporters is that black South Africans are singled out for punishment or derision because of their appearance or speech. Even political parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters and the ANC Women’s League and government officials joined the discussion, denouncing the policy.

“Schools should not be used as a platform to discourage students from embracing their African identity,” tweeted South Africa’s minister of arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa.

The Pretoria High hair rule seemed to perpetuate the notion that even in the post-apartheid era, Africans in Africa shouldn’t look or act like Africans.

“When I first heard about it, I took it very personally,” says Thandi, a psychology student at the University of Cape Town who asked that only her first name be used. “This is Africa, and we can’t be naturally who we are.”

The reason for hair and dress codes, argue some South African educators, is that personal expression can take the focus away from learning. Uniforms are ubiquitous in schools across the country. And when it comes to hair, educators insist on neatness — a standard many of them have defended as race-neutral.

But plenty of South Africans see a double standard at play. The Pretoria High policy singled out “cornrows, natural dreadlocks and singles/braids,” limiting them to “a maximum of 10 millimeters [about a third of an inch] in diameter.” Violators were told to cut their hair or they’d be given demerits that can lead to suspension and expulsion. Afros were not specifically mentioned but the hair code does state that “all styles should be conservative, neat.”

Tiisetso Phetla, who graduated from Pretoria High last year, told NPR’s Rachel Martin that people at school would call her natural hair “barbaric” and that it looked “like a dog’s breakfast” and was told to “remove that nest off your head.”

“Your mood would completely change for the entire day,” she said. “You’d be de-motivated for the day because they tell you that you don’t look as if you belong in the school.”

As is often the case in such codes, however, straight hair was not limited in such specific detail. It could be worn long if pulled back in a ponytail.

Under pressure from students and parents, provincial education minister Panyaza Lesufi suspended Pretoria High’s hair clause last week. He also appointed an independent investigation into charges of racism at the school.

Still, student protests continue across the country. On Monday, about 300 current and former pupils of San Souci Girls’ High School in Newlands, outside of Cape Town, met with the provincial education minister, demanding systemic changes to school policies and personnel.

Thousands of people have tweeted with the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh on Twitter, calling the code of conduct “offensive” and “absurd.”

And as of Tuesday morning, nearly 32,000 people had signed an online petition calling for an end to discrimination at Pretoria High, which includes “disciplinary action” for teachers who enforced the policy and “protection” for the students who protested.

Black girls at schools around the nation complained not just about hair but being referred to as “monkeys” or “kaffirs” (South Africa’s rough equivalent of the N-word) or being told by teachers to stop making “funny noises” when they speak in African languages among themselves.

While black and white girls may sit together at the same schools in a way that was inconceivable under apartheid, they aren’t necessarily sharing the same experience.

“I wasn’t surprised at all that this protest struck a chord with so many women,” says journalist Milisuthando Bongela, who is working on a documentary about hair and black identity that will be released next year. “It is something that has been waiting to explode for a very long time in South Africa.”

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