Mac App Store: Single Point of Failure →

November 17, 2015 · 18:22

Michael Tsai:

The Mac App Store is supposed to make things easier, but it’s also a single point of failure. Not only is it neglected, but sometimes even the existing functionality stops working. Mac OS X 10.9 introduced a code signing bug that prevented me from submitting updates for several months. In June 2015, there was a month-long iTunes Connect bug that prevented my uploaded build from entering the review queue. And I currently have a bug fix update that Apple has been reviewing for 33 days (with 8 days of waiting before that). When I inquired about the status, Apple told me that everything was normal and that I should just keep waiting. In short, the system is broken on multiple levels, and there is no evidence to suggest that things will get better.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Mac App Store as a user—it just makes things so easy—but what Michael mentions is completely unacceptable. It has been getting worse and worse over the past two years or so, and today I will actually actively spend time looking if an app is also available straight from the developer. The purchase procedure is usually much more irritating, I have to store the license information in 1Password, but ultimately it’s been worth it thus far.

Make sure to read the comments below Michael’s post too.


Apple Watch 2 Rumoured in Q2 or Q3 2016 →

November 17, 2015 · 18:12

Zac Hall:

While it’s no surprise that Apple would be planning to introduce the Apple Watch 2 in 2016, a third quarter release would mean a launch two years after the first model was introduced and roughly a year and a half since it went on sale.

I personally expected the second generation Watch to show up at least two years after the first one went on sale, but this theoretically makes sense in terms of the holiday quarter.

Take this with a grain of salt, as usual.


Tim Cook about converging Mac and iPad →

November 17, 2015 · 18:03

Adrian Weckler interviewing Tim Cook:

Speaking to Independent.ie, Cook denied that the death of computers such as the Mac was imminent and said that there would be a market for such traditional personal computers for the foreseeable future.

“We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”

He’s right, it wouldn’t be a good experience. Macs and iPads excel in different areas: the former is extremely powerful and potentially complicated to use, while the latter is simpler, but due to iOS’ constraints, requires more work to incorporate advanced workflows. The good news is that people will be able to get more and more done on the iPad over the next few years, especially since the operating system will gain new capabilities, empowering developers to make even more amazing apps.


Rdio joins Pandora →

November 17, 2015 · 17:32

From the Rdio blog:

We’d like to update the entire Rdio community regarding today’s announcement that Pandora plans to acquire Rdio’s innovative technology and critically-acclaimed design…

We thank you for your continued support over the years and look forward to bringing you even better music experiences in the future as part of the Pandora team.

See you, Rdio. Seriously.


Surfin’ Safari Details How to Use Apple’s San Francisco Font in CSS →

November 16, 2015 · 14:30

Myles Maxfield:

Web content is sometimes designed to fit in with the overall aesthetic of the underlying platform which it is being rendered on. One of the ways to achieve this is by using the platform’s system font, which is possible on iOS and OS X by using the “-apple-system” CSS value for the “font-family” CSS property. On iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, doing this allows you to use Apple’s new system font, San Francisco. Using “-apple-system” also correctly interacts with the font-weight CSS property to choose the correct font on Apple’s latest operating systems.

Tempted to try it on here…


Tim Cook: Apple is Open →

November 15, 2015 · 22:32

Brendan Klinkenberg posted Tim Cook’s email to Apple employees regarding the inappropriate behaviour in Melbourne’s Apple Store:

Our stores and our hearts are open to people from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language or point of view. All across our company, being inclusive and embracing our differences makes our products better and our stores stronger.

I wish all people had a similar set of values.


Charles Perry about the Patronage Model →

November 15, 2015 · 22:22

Charles Perry:

Proponents of this model call it “patronage,” but it has little in common with the historical concept of patronage where a well-off patron paid an artist an amount to commission a work of art. This new model, in fact, is the opposite of patronage. Instead of requiring a patron to provide money up front in exchange for an item of value, this new model gives away all the value in advance and requires nothing from those who receive it. It less resembles patronage, or even commerce, than it does begging, or busking if you’re feeling generous.

Interesting point of view, although I personally have a different take on the subject—set a high enough price to make your useful product sustainable and market the hell out of it. There is a tiny flaw with my theory: most people don’t want to pay for software, even when it’s really well done.


Some Are More Equal Than Others →

November 15, 2015 · 22:11

Elie Fares:

Today, 128 innocent civilians in Paris are no longer with us. Yesterday, 45 innocent civilians in Beirut were no longer with us. The death tolls keep rising, but we never seem to learn.

Amid the chaos and tragedy of it all, one nagging thought wouldn’t leave my head. It’s the same thought that echoes inside my skull at every single one of these events, which are becoming sadly very recurrent: we don’t really matter…

When my people died on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, world leaders did not rise in condemnation. There were no statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people. There was no global outrage that innocent people whose only fault was being somewhere at the wrong place and time should never have to go that way or that their families should never be broken that way or that someone’s sect or political background should never be a hyphen before feeling horrified at how their corpses burned on cement.

I stare in alarm at headlines mentioning deaths and murders every day—it’s impossible to avoid them—and I think of the horrors that the dead’s families must be going through every single time. Whatever their religion or skin colour.


Not So New →

November 15, 2015 · 01:17

Samantha Bielefeld:

The patronage-only model is so new, and very experimental, but has that stopped others from replicating it?

Technically, the patronage model that Marco Arment adopted isn’t especially new. I first saw it many years ago on David Smith’s Pedometer++ [App Store]—he’s a unique developer in terms of experimenting in the App Store, choosing different monetisation options between his many apps, and adapting extremely well to current trends. In fact, I wrote about his tip jar a while ago. To my knowledge, which isn’t especially impressive when it comes to this subject, Marek Moi’s PointOut [App Store] followed suit with a unique system of buying him coffees as a thank you.

The problem with the App Store is that a select few developers with unique ideas are able to price their apps accordingly, while the rest have to compete with many free apps that are good enough. Quite frankly, I want to pay for quality software for the sole reason of supporting the team behind it, and so that they continue to maintain their products and hopefully add new features too.

Sadly, I realise I’m in the minority…


Sometimes I Just Love Google →

October 22, 2015 · 18:05

I’m not a Google fan for various reasons, mainly due to their policies, sources of income, the way they operate, and so on. But sometimes they do something, and I just can’t stop smiling.

Read the document under the link—totally worth it. Hint: it has nothing to do with Gmail.

#BackToTheFuture


The Immature Steve Jobs →

October 21, 2015 · 20:59

Walt Mossberg, in his column on the The Verge, comments on the new Steve Jobs movie:

At the very end of the lengthy credits for Steve Jobs, there’s a statement in tiny type saying that the film includes material that is fictionalized and events that are invented. A gutsier movie would have put that disclaimer in big type, right at the beginning.

I haven’t seen the movie yet and, until now, avoided any information pertaining to the film. After inadvertently reading Walt’s words, I don’t I think want to any longer — why would I want to taint my knowledge of Steve with fiction instead of fact?


The Responsibility Theory →

October 20, 2015 · 15:50

There’s been a bit of a rucus these past few days over a certain Samantha Bielefeld and one Marco Arment. While it seemed innocent enough at first, it quickly turned ugly, especially on Twitter. I’ve been meaning to put my thoughts down on the subject for a number of days now, but Matt Gemmell wrote one of the best pieces that I’ve read on the subject, titled Responsibility:

You need to catch up first. Five days ago as I write this, Samantha posted The Elephant in the Room, which you should quickly go and read. It’s about Marco Arment’s Pragmatic app pricing piece from the day before, which talks about his move to a voluntary patronage model for his podcasting app, Overcast. You should form your own interpretation and summary of each piece, and not take my word for either. Go. I’ll wait.

Matt’s summary is perhaps one of the best ever written — please take the time to read his whole piece.

My problem with the whole issue is that I read and like all of the parties involved. I like the Grubers, the Arments, Merlin Mann, and the whole team at Relay FM. But I cannot condone their replies and jokes on the subject.

I’m just so disappointed right now.


Medium’s new API →

October 11, 2015 · 12:15

Ev Williams published a piece detailing Medium’s new API a few days ago …

Not all content needs to be written in Medium to benefit from our network and interaction. To make it easier to publish to Medium — and, therefore, broaden the scope of content available to readers — we’re opening up a publishing API.

The API lets you write in a desktop or mobile editor and publish straight to Medium.

Katie Zhu wrote about the Publishing API in greater detail—she mentions three Mac apps which I use or have used at various points in my life: iA Writer, Byword and Ulysses. I currently write in the latter and the new Medium announcements have made me reconsider running my own WordPress installation. Not worrying about anything vs. having complete control? A tough decision. Then again, Medium has created a WordPress plugin which allows for cross-posting between the two platforms.

I have three choices:

  1. Leave my WordPress installation intact and ignore Medium.
  2. Leave my WordPress installation as is and cross-post to Medium.
  3. Transfer my posts to Medium, point my domain there, and post directly from Ulysses to my Infinite Diaries publication over there.

Not sure what to do… but I know I would really like to experiment with Medium more.


“iPhone 6 Fans, Your Phone Brought Up the Rear in Almost Every Test” →

August 25, 2015 · 12:06

Alex Cranz published a “turbo charging” test on Tom’s Guide yesterday, with various Android handsets competing for the title of “fastest charging phone.” Oh, and there was an iPhone 6 in there too. And it came last.

He specifically noted that some phones need chargers that have to be bought separately to get maximum performance out of them:

Qualcomm’s technology promises to get your battery to a full charge in less than 2 hours, but some Quick Charge-capable phones, like the LG G4, don’t actually ship with the necessary brick. Other companies rebrand the technology. Motorola calls its solution Turbo Charge in the Droid Turbo and the Google Nexus 6. The Zenfone 2 uses Asus’s branded “Boostmaster technology” and requires a special power brick (only available with the $299 edition) that’s supposedly 17 percent more potent than the typical Quick Charge 2.0 brick.

He then proceeded to comment on the iPhone’s lacklustre performance:

As for iPhone 6 fans, your phone brought up the rear in almost every test.

Apple users will be delighted to know that the iPhone was no longer the slowest of the lot. It was charged to 36 percent (…)

Alex however forgot to mention one important detail—he used the 5W/1A charger with the iPhone 6, instead of one capable of delivering at least 2.1A, such as the iPad 10W/2.1A brick. This would cut the charge time from over two and a have hours by almost a full hour.

I’m sure it was an honest oversight.

P.S. To clarify—the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the first iPhones capable of charging faster by using a more powerful charger, such as the iPad 10 or 12W/2.1A power brick. I personally use a Belkin 2.1A model and it gets the job done.


Maciej’s Spotify to Apple Music Playlist Importer

July 14, 2015 · 20:44

Maciek created a Spotify to Apple Music playlist importer:

Well, it’s rather simple from your point of view. You find a Spotify playlist that you like, copy the tracks, paste them into my app, and the playlist automagically appears in your Apple Music library. No need to sniff iTunes’ packets (sic!).

I don’t personally use Spotify so I can’t vouch for how good it is, but I’ve seem people give some positive feedback—it seems to be much less of a hit-and-miss than the others out there.


The Best iPhone is a Small iPhone →

April 6, 2015 · 21:55

John Moltz:

I like my iPhone 6 well enough, but having used it for six months am I ready to fully submit to our large screen overlords? Not in the least. The large screen is the one thing I don’t like about it. It frustrates me daily. Reachability does not work consistently enough to be reliable and I can’t reach the upper right corner without that thumb-extension surgery which my health plan doesn’t cover.

Right after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus keynote I promised myself that I would use one of them for 6 months and then switch to the other. My time with the iPhone 6 was up a few weeks ago and I have since been using a 6 Plus. I still loathe its lack of usability with one hand but what’s most striking is picking up a “regular” 6 now—it’s tiny in comparison!


Car UI by Dr. Drang →

April 6, 2015 · 09:58

Dr. Drang:

It’s common for Apple users to say they wish Apple could take over their car’s user interface because the auto manufacturers do such a bad job of it. This is typically a comment on the electronic user interface, as many cars now have a little computer screen in the center of the dashboard with poorly laid out buttons and displays. I agree and take it further: I wish Apple (or anyone who thinks carefully about design for use) would have a go at the physical controls, too.

User interfaces in cars used to be all buttons and have recently been upgraded with screens and even touch screens. Tesla has gone a step further than anyone else. The problem with touchscreens is that they do not provide physical feedback nor can they be operated without looking at the screen. This is both good and bad and unfortunately the bad can cause you to die in a fiery crash. I still recall Auto Motor Und Sports car infotainment driver attention test from a few years back, just when BMW’s iDrive, Mercedes’ COMMAND and Audi’s MMI were becoming popular—drivers unfamiliar with these systems were timed at performing various basic tasks while driving. The data was compared against an old Mercedes 190 which had a button-only interface. The results were staggering–the new systems required over two minutes of attention for tasks that took a few seconds in the old Merc.

Perhaps voice is the future, but it will need to get better quickly. Neither Siri nor Google Now is even close.

Dr. Drang also mentions his windshield wiper stalk:

My pet peeve on my Toyota Camry is its windshield wiper stalk. It grows out of the right side of the steering column and has a variety of controls. The stalk as a whole can move up and down into one of five positions shown in the little graphic near the left side of the photos below. From the off position, you can move it down into the intermittent position, the low speed position, and the high speed position—the heavier the rain, the further down you move the stalk.

 

Audi windshield wiper stalk

VW, BMW and Audi have done this the other way around. One swipe down (stalk returns to OFF position) just wipes the windshield. One position up from OFF is intermittent mode, then low speed and high speed. The interval control in the middle of the stalk controls and length of the pauses between wipes—down is long and going up decreases their length. I’ve had this system in all the german cars that I’ve driven in (perhaps apart from Mercedes and Opel, they might have a different system if I recall correctly) and it’s always been intuitive. Intermittent mode is also aided by the rain sensor if the car has one and this works perfectly on my Audi at least (and a 2000 BMW 3-series too).


The Night Before Apple Watch →

March 8, 2015 · 12:34

John Gruber wrote an especially insightful post about his thoughts on the Apple Watch and what we can expect tomorrow and in the future:

But there is one good reason for last-minute speculation: this is fun. Apple tends to be such a predictable company that we often know the basic gist of what to expect before one of their media events. Not this time. The many unknowns surrounding the watch are what makes it so fun to ponder prior to next week’s event. So let’s have some fun.

John made a point of explaining exactly how hard it is to create the Link Bracelet band:

If it truly takes nine hours to cut the links for each band, and each one is polished by hand, and they’re mechanically complex (and they definitely are), this is not a $200 bracelet. I’m thinking it’s about $1000, judging by the description, and based on the prices for replacement stainless steel link bracelets from Rolex, Tudor, and Omega.

But then, in his price guesses, he places the Milanese Loop lower than the leather straps and Link Bracelet, pricing it at $949/999 for the 38 mm and 42 mm Apple Watches respectively, with the latter being closer to $2000. Apple comments how the Milanese Loop is made:

A modern interpretation of a design developed in Milan at the end of the 19th century. Woven on specialized Italian machines, the smooth stainless steel mesh wraps fluidly around your wrist. And because it’s fully magnetic, the Milanese Loop is infinitely adjustable, ensuring a perfect fit.

Despite the less impressive wording, I believe it will be the more expensive of the two—Link Bracelets are common in the watch industry, Milanese Loops are not. Also, Marc Newson created one a few years ago and gives a little insight into its creation process.

There is one point in which I completely disagree with Gruber:

Lastly, many readers have suggested a trade-in program, where you could bring in your old Apple Watch Edition and get a significant trade-in on a new one. No way. First, as stated earlier, the value of the raw gold in a gold watch is just small fraction of the price. Second, trading in used goods is not part of a luxury shopping experience.

This discussion continued on Twitter and is basically incorrect. I personally experienced what the exchange and/or upgrade process looks like in Bvlgari and Cartier (in their Berlin boutiques in case you’re wondering). After confirming that your purchase was made in one of their official boutiques, they will appraise the product and offer up to 50% of the price according to the current price list (if you bought it cheaper a few years earlier you will get more than 50% back). The value returned obviously depends on the product itself as well as materials used and physical state of the product. Neither Bvlgari nor Cartier will give the customer cash–they can provide in-store credit only which can be put towards a new purchase. The appraisal takes up to a week in most cases and the whole history of each product and customer is stored in their database, allowing them to trace it back to the day of creation.

Having said that, I don’t believe Apple will offer a program for the Apple Watch. But they should, especially for the Edition.

Update

Obviously I was wrong regarding the Milanese Loop and Link Bracelent pricing—the former is between $300 and $400 cheaper than the latter. Which is still suprising to me—I would love to see the creation process behind the Milanese Loop; it must be much less fascinating than I imagined.


I Do Want a Thicker Phone →

February 24, 2015 · 09:19

Rene Ritchie on iMore:

Take an iPhone 6 as thick as the iPhone 4 and imagine how heavy it would be. Apple was deliberate when they pointed out the iPhone 6 was actually lighter than the iPhone 4. They did that because, while thinness is nice and certainly improves the feel of the phone, it’s lightness that matters. Lightness is what improves usability.

While I often agree with Rene, I have to disagree regarding lightness—it does matter, but it’s not what improves usability the most.

The idea of a thick phone with longer battery life sounds great precisely until you actually try to hold it up for prolonged periods of time. Then it causes fatigue and eventually prevents you from using it for as long as you’d really like to.

We’re talking about 129 grams in the form of the iPhone 6 here. I actually have a 143 gram HTC One M7 on hand, with an 4.7″ screen and the weight difference is negligible. What really makes the 6 usable is it’s thinness, allowing me to use the phone with one hand. My hands aren’t that big, hence this whole argument varies from person to person, but the 2.4 millimetre difference in thickness plays a much bigger role in ergonomics than it seems it should. I assume—and I admit that this is just a guess, but backed by experience with other thicker and heavier phones—that I could easily sacrifice one extra millimetre for a bigger battery, as well as some additional weight, just to make it last a bit longer.


iPhone 6 Screens Demystified →

September 12, 2014 · 18:30

Peter Krajcik, Mike Antonic and Matt Dunik explain the details behind the new screen resolutions of both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, including the downsampling part of the equation. The more I think about the 6 Plus’ resolution however, the more I wonder if a higher resolution panel didn’t make the cut in the last few moments before production, similarly to the new rumours regarding the sapphire screens. John Gruber would have otherwise been right on the money with his calculations