Mapping the United Swears of America 

Fuck is bicoastal, but shit and pussy are East Coast swears. (Via Kottke.)

Safari vs. Chrome: Power Consumption 

BatteryBox:

Averaging data from all websites tested, Safari won first place with 6 hours 21 minutes of total usage, Firefox second with 5 hours 29 minutes of usage, and Chrome last with 5 hours 8 minutes of usage.

Basically, if you simply switch to using Safari instead of Chrome, on average you could get an extra 1 hour of usage from your battery life.

This exemplifies what the “Safari Is the New IE” crowd doesn’t get — Apple’s priorities for Safari/WebKit are very different from Google’s for Chrome/Blink. Innovation and progress aren’t necessarily only about adding new features. 24 percent better battery life is huge.

(Via Dave Mark.)

‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper Dies at 61 

I watched a lot of pro wrestling when I was a kid in the ’80s, and Piper was probably my favorite. “Piper’s Pit” was so great.

Now Available for Pre-Order: Trade Edition of Taschen’s ‘The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”’ 

Only $50 from Amazon — about $950 cheaper than the original limited edition box set. (Via Kottke.)

Windows 10 Leaps Ahead of OS X and iOS 

Drew Olanoff, writing for TechCrunch:

As a heavy Apple user, I can’t tell you most of what is in Windows 10, but I can tell you that it now has a pretty awesome feature that I would use the shit out of: the middle finger emoji (and some other new ones, too). In my opinion, it’s quite revolutionary.

My pal Paul Kafasis has been on this case since last year, and I share his concern that Apple is falling behind in the emoji middle-finger race. He even filed a radar.

(Also interesting: Microsoft’s choice of gray for skin-tone-neutral emoji. I don’t like the yellow that Apple is using for neutral, but I’m not sure gray is better — they look like zombies to me. If you’re going to go with gray, perhaps the neutral emoji should be entirely grayscale, including hair and clothing?)

Designers Tackle George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words 

John Brownlee, writing for Fast Company:

Have you ever wondered how famed Mac designer Susan Kare might go about designing a pair of pixel art tits, or how ornery ad legend Milton Glaser might handle a design brief that simply read “cocksucker?” Now you can find out, thanks to a new booster pack for the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, featuring original designs by Glaser, Kare, Debbie Milman, Paula Scher, Erik Spiekermann, and 25 more world famous designers.

Ordered.

An Apple Scale? 

Abdel Ibrahim makes the case for Apple to make a “smart scale”:

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Apple talk about Health over and over again. The conversation started with the Health app on iPhone and then got amplified with the introduction of the Apple Watch. Both of these products do a great job of capturing information. The only problem is that I have to rely on third-party hardware to tell me what that information means. If Apple is all about providing an ecosystem of great hardware, software, and services, then making a scale that can give me an output of all sorts of body-related information seems like a logical move.

My first thought when I read this was, Meh, who cares? But my second thought was that maybe something like this would be the modern-day equivalent of products like Wi-Fi base stations. If you think about it, Airport base stations are a weird product for Apple — small potatoes. But sometimes it makes sense for Apple to make small potato products that will help make make Apple’s flagship products “just work”.

That said, I don’t think Apple would actually make a scale — that’s what HealthKit is for.

Windows 10 Solitaire Requires a Subscription to Remove Ads 

Andy Chalk, PC Gamer:

Windows 10 — which is out now, by the way — comes, as it used to in the pre-Win8 days, with Solitaire preinstalled. The Microsoft Solitaire Collection, in fact, which bundles the classic Klondike with other familiar variants like Freecell and Spider Solitaire, tracks stats and logs achievements, and will even have leaderboards at some point. It also has ads.

You can make the ads go away, but, as you may have guessed, it’ll cost you, and not just once: The Microsoft Solitaire Collection Premium Edition is effectively a subscription service that goes for $1.50 a month, or $10 for a year. The Premium version of the game does away with ads, and also offers more coins for completing “Daily Challenges,” and a boost when you play TriPeaks or Pyramid.

Classy. Real classy.

Steve Jobs at WWDC 1997 

This exchange from a Q&A session Steve Jobs held at WWDC 1997 is a classic. You’ve probably seen it before. But it’s one of those clips that never gets old, and is always worth revisiting. Jobs’s whole response is gold, and, in hindsight, he lays out that the sort of thinking that has guided Apple in the 18 years since. Consider this bit:

“Some mistakes will be made along the way. That’s good. Because at least some decisions are being made along the way. We’ll find the mistakes, we’ll fix them! I think what we need to do is support that team.”

The way to build a great anything — a product, a company, a book, a blog, an app, a service, a movie, anything — is not to obsess over not making mistakes. That leads to paralysis. Try to avoid mistakes, sure. But recognize that you’ll inevitably make some, and create a culture and work ethic where mistakes get identified and fixed.

John Paczkowski: Apple Will Debut New Apple TV in September 

John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that the company intends to announce its next-generation Apple TV in September, at the same event at which it typically unveils its new iPhones. The device itself is pretty much as we described it to you in March, sources say, but “more polished” after some additional tweaks. Expect a refreshed and slimmer chassis and new innards; Apple’s A8 system on chip; a new remote that sources say has been “drastically improved” by a touch-pad input; an increase in on-board storage; and an improved operating system that will support Siri voice control. Crucially, the new Apple TV will debut alongside a long-awaited App Store and the software development kit developers need to populate it.

But, Paczkowski reports, it will not appear alongside Apple’s purported subscription TV content service:

While that service is most certainly in the offing, sources tell BuzzFeed News that Apple does not currently plan to announce it alongside the new Apple TV. “Late this year — maybe, but more likely next year,” said one, seconding a June report by Recode.

One of the theories bandied about when WWDC came and went without any Apple TV announcements — no new hardware, no SDK — was that Apple didn’t want to announce the new Apple TV until the subscription TV service was ready, too. According to Paczkowski, though, that’s exactly what they’re going to do in September. My guess: Apple held it back for September to have something significantly “new” to announce alongside the new iPhones. Last year, that was Apple Watch; this year, it’s Apple TV.

Apple Rents First Office Space in Frisco 

Cory Weinberg, writing for the San Francisco Business Times:

Apple Inc. reached an agreement to rent about 76,000 square feet of office space in the South of Market neighborhood’s 235 Second St., several real estate sources in San Francisco and Silicon Valley said.

The potential sublease is a modest amount of space for a company with the world’s largest market capitalization ($705 billion) that is constructing a 2.8 million-square-foot “Spaceship” campus in Cupertino. But this would signify Apple’s first push into San Francisco — piling onto the herd of Silicon Valley companies that have wanted a taste of the city.

I lost a nice hat in this building back in 2006, when CNet was a company that mattered.

The Talk Show: ‘A Sack Full of Plucked Feathers’ 

Special guest John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include bluetooth headphones, Apple Music and iCloud Photo Library, phone sizes (including speculation on the lineup of new iPhones in September), El Chapo’s social media intern, Apple’s stock price, Alex Gibney’s upcoming Steve Jobs documentary, and the new trailer for Spectre.

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Using Apple’s System Font in Web Content 

Myles Maxfield, writing for the Surfin’ Safari blog:

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.

Gaming Uber 

Alex Rosenblatt, writing for Motherboard:

Over a six month period, my colleague Luke Stark and I have been studying how Uber drivers interact with the Uber app as part of a research project funded by Microsoft FUSE Labs. Our research was conducted primarily in Uber driver forums, and through interviews with Uber drivers. We’ve observed that drivers across multiple forums discuss the fake cars they see on their own residential streets. One driver, who makes regular broadcasts advising drivers about using the Uber system, even made a YouTube video to show other drivers how the app sometimes displays cars that aren’t there.

Vizio IPO Plan Shows How Its TVs Track Whatever You’re Watching 

Richard Lawler, writing for Engadget on Vizio’s IPO filing:

Vizio has made its name with impressive value-priced TVs that don’t skimp on features (it’s also a leader in the soundbar market, and has made attempts at selling tablets and phones too). According to the filing, Vizio has sold more than 15 million smart TVs, with about 61 percent of them connected as of the end of June. While viewers are benefiting from those connections, streaming over 3 billion hours of content, Vizio says it’s watching them too, with Inscape software embedded in the screens that can track anything you’re playing on it — even if it’s from cable TV, videogame systems and streaming devices.

We’ve never heard of Inscape before, but as explained in the S-1 Vizio filed today, it’s based on ACR (automatic content recognition) software licensed from a third party, and viewers can opt-out of participating in it while maintaining other connected features. That’s actually fairly common in modern TVs, and others like LG and Samsung have already rolled out features based on the tech to do things like integrate with TV shows, or display ads based on what the TV is showing. ACR software recognizes the video being displayed, matches it up and phones home the data. According to Vizio, its Inscape platform can pull some 100 billion anonymized datapoints from 8 million of its connected TVs every day. That kind of data can be used for ratings, and is valuable to both advertisers and content providers.

Note to self: never buy anything from Vizio.

The End of the TV Industry as We Know It 

Amol Sharma, writing for The WSJ:

Why would Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal unit be hunting for new media deals, and talking to companies like Vice Media, BuzzFeed and Business Insider, as The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday?

One explanation is that the cable giant is chasing young consumers who aren’t watching TV as much as past generations did. This chart illustrates the situation.

According to these numbers from Nielsen, among those 18-24 years old, TV viewing has dropped 32 percent since 2010. That’s the youngest group in the chart, but judging by my 11-year-old son’s habits, this trend is even more striking for kids. He hardly watches any traditional TV at all. Just YouTube, Netflix, and movies.

Kids React to the First iPod 

These videos are always funny, and always make me feel old. Very old. But this one also seems to suggest that a hunch I’ve had for the last few years is going to prove true: that the word phone — just plain un-prefixed, unmodified “phone” — is evolving to mean “a pocket-sized touch screen computer with a cellular network connection”. And for these kids, phone really just means “pocket-sized computer”, because they just presume the use of a touch screen and wireless networking.

Hugh MacLeod’s Illustrated Guide to Life Inside Microsoft 

A couple of these caught my eye, but none more so than “It’s more fun being the underdog.” The Churchill quote, too.

Apple Music vs. iCloud Photos 

Marco Arment:

iTunes is designed by the Junk Drawer Method: when enough cruft has built up that somebody tells the team to redesign it, while also adding and heavily promoting these great new features in the UI that are really important to the company’s other interests and are absolutely non-negotiable, the only thing they can really do is hide all of the old complexity in new places. […]

I have plenty of plausible theories on why iTunes didn’t get the iCloud Photos treatment — why Apple Music was bolted onto this ancient, crufty, legacy app instead of discontinuing iTunes, dropping its obsolete functions, and starting fresh with a new app and a CloudKit-based service. (Engineering resources, time to market, iPods, Windows, and people with slow internet connections.)

Exactamundo. iCloud Photos gets right everything that Apple Music gets wrong. Like Marco, I can imagine many reasons why Apple took a different route with music than the clean-slate approach they took with photos. I’m not in a position to judge what Apple should have done. All I’m saying is that the difference in results is stark. I understand the design and purpose of Photos (the app) on both Mac and iOS, and I understand how iCloud Photo Library is supposed to work. And, for me — and seemingly, almost everyone — that’s how iCloud Photo Library does work. You sign up, you enable it on all your devices, you wait for the initial sync to finish, and boom — now all your photos are available on all your devices, all the time. I don’t think this would have worked out as well if they had kept going with iPhoto on the Mac. They needed the clean break — both in terms of design and in terms of engineering.

Yours Truly on The Dalrymple Report 

Jim Dalrymple was kind enough to have me on his podcast. Fun.

Bushel 

My thanks to Bushel for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Bushel is a simple-to-use, cloud-based mobile device management solution designed for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices in your workplace. Bushel makes it easy for you to set up, manage, and protect your Apple devices — when you want, wherever you are. Your first three devices enrolled are free forever, and each additional device is just $2 per month, with no contracts or commitments.

Check out their website to see just how nice their design work is. Bushel is “device management” for people with discerning taste.

Tony Fadell on Apple Watch 

Tony Fadell (admitted watch aficionado), in an interesting interview with the BBC:

Tellingly, Mr Fadell reveals he recently started testing Sir Jonathan’s latest product, the Apple Watch, although he was not wearing it at the time of interview.

“I’ve had mine for about two weeks now,” he says.

“I think they did a tremendous job on the hardware components of it. They are trying many different things with that platform - some are going to be great, and some are not.”

Consider the difference between “I think they did a tremendous job” versus “I think they did a tremendous job on the hardware”.

Jim Dalrymple Got Most of His Music Back 

Jim Dalrymple:

It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about 99 percent of my music back. […]

Apple said my music was never deleted and that it was in the cloud the entire time. Before Apple Music, iTunes Match would show me all of my songs — matched, uploaded, and purchased. However, if you turn off iCloud Music Library and Apple Music, iTunes Match will only show your purchased content now. There is no way to separate iTunes Match from the iCloud Music Library. Before, you would turn off iTunes Match — now you would turn off iCloud Music Library.

So now I have the iTunes Match service that I pay for separately, and Apple Music, both of which use iCloud Music Library. There is really no way to get away from them if you want to use the latest and greatest from Apple.

I’ll admit, I’m still trying to get my head around how this works.

As clear as mud how this all works. Why not make Apple Music a separate standalone app? Apple Music: subscription service with DRM. iTunes: music you own, no DRM.

Apple at Its Most Pompous 

From a new iPhone page, “Why There’s Nothing Quite Like iPhone”:

Also amazing? The fact that there are over a million and a half capable, beautiful, inspiring apps on the App Store. And each and every one was reviewed and approved by a team of real live humans. With great taste. And great suggestions. And great ideas.

Yes, thank goodness for those ideas and suggestions from App Store reviewers that make our apps so great. And thanks even more for their great taste that keeps all but the best 100 or so Flappy Bird ripoffs out of the store.

Update: What irks here, fundamentally, is that Apple is taking credit for the great apps in the App Store, rather than giving credit to the third-party developers who make them. This plays straight into the widespread misconception that everyone who makes iOS apps works for Apple.

Apple at Its Best 

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Apple has assembled a new App Store collection, promoting apps with great accessibility support.

Who Said It: Donald Trump or Frank Reynolds? 

“One is an inexplicably wealthy self-obsessed racist with the moral compass of a meth-addled 2-year-old, and the other is a character played by Danny DeVito.”

The Verge’s Web Sucks 

Les Orchard:

A page view on The Verge is a heavy load. I’ve known this for awhile, but it wasn’t until now that I decided to take a peek at what might be wriggling under this log. […]

Holy crap. It took over 30 seconds. In the end, it fetched over 9.5MB across 263 HTTP requests. That’s almost an order of magnitude more data and time than needed for the article itself.

What the hell is all this stuff?

Best part is that Orchard decided to look into this only after Nilay Patel pointed the blame for the crumminess of the mobile web at the browsers.

Amazon’s Market Cap Now Bigger Than Walmart’s 

Some interesting graphs from Quartz. Amazon wins on growth. Walmart wins on profit — but we all know Amazon doesn’t even try to turn a profit. More importantly, Walmart’s revenue remains more than five times that of Amazon.

More interesting, perhaps — and a big reason behind continued investor enthusiasm — is that thanks to AWS, Amazon is more than just a retailer now. AWS is now a $6 billion a year business.

Flopping Into the Lead 

John Moltz:

Apple leads the pack, but the pack is still a pack made up of smartwatches. No one really knows how big this market is going to get and how long it’ll have steam. Let me repeat that for emphasis: No one really knows. So feel free to point and laugh at anyone estimating the next five years of smartwatch sales. Remember when Windows Phone was going to overtake Android? Good. Times. We laughed ourselves until we died and then we were reborn, shiny and chrome.

‘Coming Soon’ 

Craig Hockenberry on the various ways Apple treats the Mac App Store as a second-class citizen to the iOS App Store: no TestFlight (which means no testing betas against production iCloud servers), no analytics, and, just to rub salt in the wound, they haven’t applied the new rule that disallows app reviews from users running beta versions of the OS.

Hockenberry:

I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same functionality for that fee.

Non-Sarcastic ‘Finally’ of the Week 

MacStories: “Apple Prevents App Store Reviews From Users on iOS 9 Betas”.

This is the first year Apple has done a public beta of iOS, so better late than never, but app reviews from people running developer betas of the OS have been a problem for years.

New Trailer for ‘Spectre’ 

Low on spoilers, particularly by modern-day trailer standards, but I’ve got a bad feeling about where this might be going with the “chilling connection between [Bond] and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz”. Feels a little Luke/Leia/Vader-y. Hope I’m wrong.

Jim Dalrymple Is Done With Apple Music 

Jim Dalrymple:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

Ouch.

Audi, BMW, and Daimler Near Deal to Buy Nokia Mapping Service 

William Boston, reporting for the WSJ:

A group of German auto makers agreed to pay slightly more than €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) for Nokia’s digital mapping service, prevailing over Silicon Valley bidders in a battle for a key enabling technology for self-driving cars.

German luxury car makers Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG, and BMW AG have agreed in principle to purchase the telecommunications group’s digital mapping service Nokia Here, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Both sides of this — why Nokia needs to sell Here Maps, and why the car makers want to buy it — were explained by Horace Dediu last month.

The Five Biggest Takeaways of Apple’s Q3 2015 Quarterly Earnings 

Good take from Jason Snell. On China:

Over the past couple of years, Apple has made a point–not just in conversations with the financial industry, but also on stage at media events–of discussing its efforts in China. The massive effort the company is putting into China is certainly paying off: While the last two quarters have showed 75 percent year-over-year growth, Apple more than doubled its China revenue in this most recent quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Apple isn’t just growing in China, its growth is accelerating.

With the Chinese stock market and economy being called into question in recent days, it was interesting to hear Cook defend the market to financial analysts. He made it clear that Apple believes China will ultimately be Apple’s largest market. (It’s already surpassed Europe in total revenue.)

Tim Cook on Apple Watch Sales 

From Serenity Caldwell’s transcript of Tim Cook’s remarks on Apple’s quarterly analyst call:

Sales of the Watch did exceed our expectations and they did so despite supply still trailing demand at the end of the quarter.

And to give you a little additional insight, through the end of the quarter, in fact, the Apple Watch sell-through was higher than the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the original iPad. And we were able to do that with having only 680 points of sale. And as you probably know, as I had reviewed earlier, the online sales were so great at the beginning we were not able to seed inventory to our stores until mid-June. And so those points of sale, pretty much, the overwhelming majority of the low numbers of sales were not there until the last two weeks of the quarter.

Later:

On the Watch, our June sales were higher than April or May. I realize that’s very different than some of what’s being written, but June sales were the highest. The Watch had a more of a back-ended kind of skewing.

So, either Tim Cook is lying and committed securities fraud, or, those reports about Apple Watch sales “plunging” — all of them based on that one report from Slice Intelligence — were a pile of crap. It will take years to judge the overall success of Apple Watch, but it seems pretty clear it’s gotten off to a good start.

Luca Maestri: Apple Watch Revenue ‘Well Over’ $952 Million 

The AP:

Some analysts noted that Apple reported $2.6 billion in revenue from the company’s “Other Products” segment, which includes the watch. That’s about $952 million more than the previous quarter, when the watch had not yet gone on sale, or significantly less than the $1.8 billion in watch sales that analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting.

But Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press that revenue from the watch amounted to “well over” that $952 million increase. He said the watch sales were offset by declining revenue from iPods and accessories, which are also lumped into that segment.

As Dan Seifert tweeted (one and two), this means Apple Watch already generates more revenue than Microsoft Surface — which was up 117 percent:

While the company’s stumbles in smartphones have shown the bruising downsides of the hardware business for Microsoft, it had success with other devices, including its Surface tablet, the revenue from which grew 117 percent, to $888 million. Revenue from its Xbox game business rose 27 percent. In total, Microsoft said it had nearly $2 billion in computing and gaming hardware revenue in the quarter.

Apple Reports Record Third Quarter Results 

Apple PR:

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The growth was fueled by record third quarter sales of iPhone and Mac, all-time record revenue from services and the successful launch of Apple Watch.

Apple shares are, of course, way down in after-hours trading, because after-hours traders start drinking as soon as the markets close.

Beleaguered Microsoft Reports $2.1 Billion Quarterly Loss 

Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge:

Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4 billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.

$7.6 billion write-off, no big deal.

$1 billion Xbox writeoff, no big deal.

$900 million write-off for Surface RT, no big deal.

$6.2 billion write-off for Aquantive, no big deal.

Web Design: The First 100 Years 

Maciej Ceglowski:

So the world of the near future is one of power constrained devices in a bandwidth-constrained environment. It’s very different from the recent past, where hardware performance went up like clockwork, with more storage and faster CPUs every year.

And as designers, you should be jumping up and down with relief, because hard constraints are the midwife to good design. The past couple of decades have left us with what I call an exponential hangover.


Safari Content Blocker, Before and After

Dean Murphy wrote an iOS 9 Safari Content Blocker, and tested it against iMore:

With no content blocked, there are 38 third party scripts (scripts not hosted on the host domain) running when the homepage is opened, which takes a total of 11 seconds. Some of these scripts are hosted by companies I know, Google, Amazon, Twitter and lots from companies I don’t know. Most of which I assume are used to display adverts or track my activity, as the network activity was still active after a minute of leaving the page dormant. I decided to turn them all off all third party scripts and see what would happen.

After turning off all third party scripts, the homepage took 2 seconds to load, down from 11 seconds. Also, the network activity stopped as soon as the page loaded so it should be less strain on the battery.

I love iMore. I think they’re the best staff covering Apple today, and their content is great. But count me in with Nick Heer — their website is shit-ass. Rene Ritchie’s response acknowledges the problem, but a web page like that — Rene’s 537-word all-text response — should not weigh 14 MB.1

It’s not just the download size, long initial page load time, and the ads that cover valuable screen real estate as fixed elements. The fact that these JavaScript trackers hit the network for a full-minute after the page has completely loaded is downright criminal. Advertising should have minimal effect on page load times and device battery life. Advertising should be respectful of the user’s time, attention, and battery life. The industry has gluttonously gone the other way. iMore is not the exception — they’re the norm. 10+ MB page sizes, minute-long network access, third-party networks tracking you across unrelated websites — those things are all par for the course today, even when serving pages to mobile devices. Even on a site like iMore, staffed by good people who truly have deep respect for their readers.

With Safari Content Blockers, Apple is poised to allow users to fight back. Apple has zeroed in on what we need: not a way to block ads per se, but a way to block obnoxious JavaScript code. A reckoning is coming. 


  1. This very article on Daring Fireball, the one whose footnote you’re reading right now, weighs between 125–175 KB — *kilobytes* — depending on the random ad from The Deck being served. ↩︎


On Jony Ive’s Promotion to Chief Design Officer

Ben Thompson’s take, published yesterday, makes several interesting points. He astutely observes that Ive’s newly-promoted lieutenants, Alan Dye (UI design) and Richard Howarth (industrial design), both were featured prominently in recent feature articles granting access to Apple executives:

The message again, is clear: when Ive took over software, Dye was there.

Indeed, taken as a whole, this entire episode is a masterful display of public relations: plant the seeds of this story in two articles — ostensibly about the Watch — that provide unprecedented access to Apple broadly and Apple’s design team in particular, and happen to highlight two designers in particular, neither of whom had any public profile to date (kind of — as John Gruber and I discussed on The Talk Show — Dye is a polarizing figure in Apple circles). Then, after a presumably successful Watch launch, announce on a holiday — when the stock market is closed — that these two newly public designers have newly significant roles at Apple.

A “masterful display of public relations” feels exactly right. With one exception, though: clarifying the degree of Ive’s ongoing involvement in Apple’s design work.

[A brief interpolation on Alan Dye as a “polarizing” figure within Apple: It’s not about his personality (a la Scott Forstall, or maybe even Tony Fadell), but rather Dye’s background in branding and graphic design. The Dye-led redesigns of iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite — and the new design of the Apple Watch OS — are “flat” in large part because “flat” is how modern graphic design looks. Suffice it to say, there were (and remain) people within Apple who consider this trend a mistake — that what makes for good graphic design does not necessarily make for good user interface design, and often makes for bad user interface design. Another way to look at it is that when Ive consolidated UI design under his purview, he and Dye more or less assembled a new team. This sort of thing invariably ruffled feathers from the prior UI designers in the company — especially those who worked under Forstall on the iOS team.

Anyway, personality-wise, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Dye — that he’s anti-political, pro-designer, and easy to get along with. End interpolation.]

There are two basic ways to read this news. The first is to take Apple at its word — that this is a promotion for Ive that will let him focus more of his attention on, well, design. That he’s delegating management administrivia to Dye and Howarth, not decreasing his involvement in supervising the actual design work. The second way — the cynical way — is that this is the first step to Ive easing his way out the door, and that his new title is spin to make the news sound good rather than bad.

In short: is this truly a promotion for Ive, or is it (as Thompson punctuated it) a quote-unquote “promotion”?

One reason for skepticism is the odd way the story was announced, via a feature profile of Ive (and to a lesser degree, Tim Cook) by Stephen Fry. It was an odd article and an even odder way for Apple to announce the news. One line from the article caught many observers’ attention (boldface emphasis added):

When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch’s operating system came from him. With those two in place I can …”

I could feel him avoiding the phrase “blue sky thinking”… think more freely?”

“Yes!”

Jony will travel more, he told me. Among other things, he will bring his energies to bear — as he has already since their inception — on the Apple Stores that are proliferating around the world. The company’s retail spaces have been one of their most extraordinary successes.

From my own first take on the news:

Part of the story is that Ive is going to “travel more”, which I take to mean “live in England”.

That seems like an odd jump to make — from “travel more” to “live in England” — but it was based on two factors: the news being announced in a London newspaper, and the widespread speculation that Ive and his wife had been thinking about moving to England with their children since 2011. That speculation is entirely based on this Sunday Times piece on Ive’s compensation — behind a paywall, alas, but the Daily Mail summarized the Times’s report thus:

However, despite the ‘rock star’ status Essex-born Ive has in the design world, with his work lauded by peers and used by millions around the world, the newspaper said his desire to ‘commute’ from his £2.5million manor house in Somerset was being opposed by bosses at the technology company, who want him to stay in the U.S.

He and wife Heather, who met while they were studying at Newcastle Polytechnic, are said to want to educate their twins in England.

Ive, like all of his colleagues in Apple senior management, is intensely private. Neither he, nor Apple, to my knowledge has ever said a word confirming or denying the Times’s claim that he wanted to spend more time in England and send their children to school there.

[Update: I failed to remember this bit from Ian Parker’s recent New Yorker profile of Ive:

Ive told me that he never planned to move: he and his wife bought the house for family vacations, and sold it when it was underused. But he also connected the sale to what he called inaccurate reporting, in the London Times, in early 2011, claiming that Apple’s board had thwarted his hope of a relocation; he did not want to be shadowed by gossip.

So he has refuted it. File it under spin if you will, but it doesn’t make sense to me for Ive to say this to The New Yorker if his true intentions were to take steps to do just the opposite a few months later.]

Having thought about this some more, though, today, in 2015, we can maybe call bullshit on this aspect of the Times report. His twins are now 10 years old. They’re already being educated — in California. He’s clearly not bolting from Apple any time soon — even if this is a precursor to him leaving eventually, we’re talking about a few years down the road. And “a few years” from now his children will be even older. Again: Ive may be winding down, and he may, someday, return to England. But the time is running out — if it hasn’t already — for his family to return to England to raise their children there. I don’t ever expect Jony Ive to drop the “aluminium”, but he and his family are Californians.

A simpler way to look at this would be to see Ive having been promoted to, effectively, the new Steve Jobs: the overseer and arbiter of taste for anything and everything the company touches. One difference: Jobs, famously, was intimately involved with Apple’s advertising campaigns. Cook, in his internal memo, wrote: “Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.” But, still, it’s hard not to read Cook’s description of Ive’s responsibilities as pretty much matching those of Steve Jobs while he was CEO.

Lastly, a title can just be a title, but Apple has only had three C-level executives in the modern era (excepting CFOs, whose positions are legally mandated): Jobs (CEO, duh) Cook (COO under Jobs, now CEO), and now Jony Ive (CDO).1 It’s possible this title is more ceremonial than practical, but Tim Cook doesn’t strike me as being big on ceremony. Apple doesn’t exactly throw around senior vice-presidentships lightly, either, but a new C-level title is almost unprecedented.

[Update, 28 May 2015: Here’s a big exception I’d forgotten about: Avie Tevanian.]

I can see Cook-Ive as a sort of titular reversal of the Jobs-Cook C-level leadership duo. Cook oversees operations and “running the company”; Ive oversees everything else. So they created a new title to convey the authority Ive already clearly wielded, and promoted Dye and Howarth, his trusted lieutenants, to free him from administrative drudgery. I could be wrong, and we’ll know after a few years, but that’s my gut feeling today. 


  1. One small oddity. As of this writing it’s been over two days since Ive’s promotion was announced, but Apple’s “Executive Profiles” page still hasn’t been updated. Usually Apple has things like this staged and ready to go. Update: A few readers have suggested that Apple technically can’t update this page yet, because the new titles aren’t effective until July 1. Makes sense. So maybe file this entire footnoted “oddity” under “never mind”. ↩︎︎


On the Apple Watch Interaction Model and the Digital Crown

Steven Berlin Johnson finds the digital crown button convoluted:

If you press this button, these are the potential events that will transpire on your Watch’s screen:

  • You’ll be taken to the “watch face” view.
  • You’ll be taken to the “home screen” app view.
  • You’ll stay in the “home screen” view, but it will re-center on the “watch face” app.
  • You’ll move from a detailed view of a notification back to the notifications summary.

His proposed solution:

Fortunately there is an easy fix for this confusion, which is to streamline the Digital Crown so that it focuses exclusively on the Watch’s two homes. Pressing the Digital Crown should simply toggle you back and forth between the “watch face” and the “home screen.” (Its other functionality could all be achieved through other means; for instance, you can already re-orient the “home screen” simply by dragging your finger across the Watch’s screen.) That’s still more complicated than the iPhone home button, but it’s the kind of thing most users would pick up in a matter of minutes using the Watch. And it has a conceptual clarity that is sorely lacking in the current design.

His whole piece is worth reading, because it aptly describes, almost exactly, how I felt about Apple Watch after using it for just a few days. Several of his complaints, which I would have agreed with in my first few days of Apple Watch use, I no longer consider problems.1 And even now, with seven weeks of daily Apple Watch experience under my belt, when I first read his suggestion for simplifying the digital crown button, I was nodding my head in agreement. But when I sat down to write about it, I realized there’s really only one small thing I would suggest Apple change: the last of its four roles noted by Johnson — its function as a hardware “back” button while looking at the detail view for a notification.

Otherwise, I would keep the functionality of the crown button as-is:

  • If the watch display is off, pressing the crown wakes it up.
  • If the watch is showing your glances or notifications, pressing the crown takes you back to the watch face.
  • If the watch is displaying your watch face, pressing the crown switches you to the home screen showing all your apps.
  • If you’re using any app, pressing the crown takes you back to the home screen, with the view centered on the app you just left.
  • If the watch is on your home screen and the clock app is not centered, pressing it will re-center.
  • If the watch is on the home screen, centered on the clock, pressing it will switch you to the watch face.

That looks more complicated than it is. And I’m even leaving out at least one other scenario: when you’ve put your home screen into edit mode — where you can delete and rearrange the installed apps — pressing the crown takes you out of editing mode.

Here’s a better way to think about it — and without thinking about it, the reason why I think most people aren’t frustrated or confused by the crown button after a week or so. It’s best to think of Apple Watch as having two modes: watch mode, and app mode.

You do not need to understand this to use the watch. Most Apple Watch owners will never really think about this. But this idea of two modes is central to understanding the design of the overall interaction model.

Watch mode:

  • Shows your watch face by default.
  • Swipe down for notifications.
  • Swipe up for glances.
  • Tap a complication — date, weather, activity — to launch its corresponding app.
  • Tap a glance to open to the corresponding app.
  • Force tap to switch or edit watch faces.

App mode:

  • Shows your home screen, centered on the clock app, by default.
  • No notification list or glances.
  • Tap an app to open it.
  • Long-tap on the home screen to open editing mode.

Watch mode is where you take quick glances at information and notifications; app mode is where you go to “do something”. Watch mode is where most people will spend the majority — perhaps the overwhelming majority — of their time using Apple Watch. App mode is a simple one-level hierarchy for “everything else”.

If you think about Apple Watch as having these two modes, the role of the crown button is clear:

  • From the “default” view of either mode, the crown button switches you to the other mode.
  • From anywhere else, the crown button takes you to the default view of the current mode. (There’s a slight exception here in app mode: if you’re using an app, pressing the crown first takes you to the home screen centered on the app you were just using, and you have to press it again to center the home screen on the clock app.)

Consider: What happens when you press the digital crown button while in, say, the Weather app? The answer is: It depends how you got there. If you start from the home screen and tap the Weather app icon, the digital crown button returns you to the home screen. If you start from the watch face, though, and launch the full Weather app by tapping the Weather glance, then the digital crown button returns you to the watch face.

This sounds confusing. And if you’re expecting Apple Watch’s digital crown button to work like iOS’s home button, it is not the expected behavior. But in practice, I think it works very well. I suspect this arrangement wasn’t designed in advance but was instead the result of many months of play-testing by the designers on the Apple Watch team.

Again, I agree with Johnson that if you’re looking at a notification detail view, the crown should take you all the way back to the watch face. You have to tap on screen to get into a notification detail view, and they all have a large “Dismiss” button at the bottom if going “back” is what you want. “Back” just doesn’t feel right for the digital crown button. It should simply mean go home in the current mode, or, if you’re already home, switch to the other mode.

I don’t mind the “re-center and re-zoom on the clock app” extra action for the digital crown button. To me, it’s directly analogous to the way the home button takes you back to the first home screen in iOS. More importantly, you don’t have to go back to the watch face (or, as I’m referencing it here, watch “mode”). That just happens automatically when you lower your wrist and stay away from the watch for 30 seconds. You don’t have to “clean up” and go back to the watch face manually. It just happens automatically when you stop using the watch. A few special apps behave otherwise — Workout and Remote, so far — but in both of those cases that makes sense. And, yes, there is a setting (General → Activate on Wrist Raise → Resume To) that allows you to always return to the last-used app, but I don’t see why anyone would use that unless they stubbornly insist upon treating their Apple Watch like a miniature iPhone. Another way to think of this option is as a toggle between treating “watch mode” and “app mode” as the primary mode.

Another insight: the side button exists outside either mode. It behaves the same way no matter which mode you’re in, no matter what you’re doing. One press of the side button brings up your Friends circle. A double-press initiates Apple Pay. In either case — Friends circle or Apple Pay — pressing (or double-pressing) the digital crown button dismisses the side button mode you entered. 


  1. For example, the idea that you should be able to swipe up from anywhere — not just from the watch face — to see glances. A lot of people seem to have this complaint early on. The thought had occurred to me, too. But it clearly wouldn’t work. In other contexts, swiping your finger up on the display scrolls the content, including the home screen, where you need to pan around to see all your apps. Apple would only enable glances globally if they forced you to use the digital crown for scrolling, or, if they enabled glances only as a swipe up from the very bottom edge of the display. Notification Center and Control Center work that way on iOS, which allows them not to conflict with regular old scrolling and panning. But I’m nearly certain that the watch display is too small to make that distinction. You’d find yourself scrolling when you wanted to bring up Glances and bringing up Glances when you wanted to scroll. It’d be maddening. The Watch OS “back” shortcut — swiping from the left to go back in a view hierarchy — is an edge gesture, but that’s OK because if you miss the edge, nothing happens. ↩︎


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