Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like. It helps you share files, blog updates, coordinate calendars, and manage projects.

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On Yosemite’s New Window Title Bar Style 

Jason Snell:

In Yosemite, there’s a new style. You see it in Safari and Contacts and Maps, to name three prominent examples. To save space, Apple has collapsed the two rows together into one. In Safari, the “stoplight” buttons are right next to the forward and back buttons, on the same level as the URL/search bar and all the rest of the toolbar items. This has the effect of reducing the height of the chrome on a Safari window, while also reducing the open space left to actually click on and move the window around the screen.

We can argue about whether or not this collapsed toolbar/title bar thing is a good idea. What bugs me is not that it exists, but that it only exists in a few of Apple’s apps. In Mail and Preview and TextEdit and even the new iWork apps, the old style prevails. The inconsistency rankles. If Apple thinks the tool/title bar is the future, why do many of its apps not follow the format?

I think the reason Apple’s not using this style in most apps is because most apps have so many toolbar buttons that there’d be very little space left for clicking to drag the window around. And without window titles, it’d be hard to tell which window is which. Safari gets away with this because the URL field acts like a de facto window title. (And given the way that so many websites junk up their <title> tags with SEO-ish cruft, the domain name/url is often better than the actual “title” for the page — and the actual titles appear on your tabs anyway.)

That’s Apple 

Matthew Palmer:

But look behind the exploded iMac. Behind the new ‘TCON’ there’s a girl holding her father’s hand. Not brought to the centre of the frame, not inflated to be the story of the video, just a consequence of this device being in their home. That’s incredible storytelling.

That’s Apple.

You either think things like this matter in product marketing, or you don’t. If you do, you’re a lot more likely to appreciate the details in Apple’s actual products themselves.

I also think it’s worth pointing out how good the special effects are in these videos. I was kind of blown away by the shot where the camera moves and zooms in on individual pixels. Impressive CGI work.

‘You’re My Favorite Client’ 

Speaking of Mike Monteiro and excellent writing, he’s got a new book. I read it this week, and it’s just great, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another book on this topic: a book for clients and employers on how to hire and work with designers. If I were still doing freelance design work, I’d give a copy of this book to every client I worked with. Highly recommended.

See Also: This interview with Mike by Khoi Vinh:

This book has a very unorthodox tone — the second line is an expletive! Why did you take this tack?

It’s not an unorthodox tone for me. I write like I talk. And I’ve generally always had better results being myself when I write and when I speak and when I deal with clients. Obviously, I read the room and know how much to pull back. I wouldn’t curse in front of your mom, for instance.

The Retina iMac Versus the Mac Pro, on Paper 

Marco Arment:

Intel’s next CPU cores (Broadwell) are significantly delayed, so in the meantime, they released a few more high-end Haswell models. The Retina iMac’s 4 GHz option is the Core i7-4790K, which is currently the fastest CPU in the world for most single-threaded tasks.

Since the Xeons in the Mac Pro are based on the even older Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, they’ve been lagging behind even the previous iMacs for single-threaded apps. According to early Geekbench reports, the 4 GHz, 4-core Retina iMac appears to be 25% faster than the 6-core Mac Pro in single-threaded tasks and only about 15% slower in multi-threaded tasks. That’s incredible.

I ordered one yesterday. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous display, outstanding performance, and amazing technology to make it all work. They could have gone “retina” with scaling earlier, but instead, Apple waited until they could truly go pixel-for-pixel @2x retina at 27 inches. I’ve never bought a new machine with less hesitation.

As for price, keep in mind that 10 years ago, the original 30-inch Cinema Display (resolution: 2560 × 1600 pixels) cost $3300. Just the display.

The Guardian: ‘How Whisper App Tracks “Anonymous” Users’ 

Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe, reporting for The Guardian:

Approached for comment last week, Whisper said it “does not follow or track users”. The company added that the suggestion it was monitoring people without their consent, in an apparent breach of its own terms of service, was “not true” and “false”.

But on Monday — four days after learning the Guardian intended to publish this story — Whisper rewrote its terms of service; they now explicitly permit the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature.

Whisper has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent.

Update: Whisper denies everything in The Guardian’s report. Everything. (Curious that they put it on Scribd — why not on the company blog?) Either The Guardian blew it and got it wrong, or Whisper is lying.

Layer Tennis: Glenn Jones vs. Flavio Montiel 

My pal Mike Monteiro is doing the commentary, and he’s killing it. Redefining what it means to be a Layer Tennis commentator. If this keeps up he’s going to break my heart.

Apple in One Image 

Avinash Kaushik:

There are many signals that allow one to come to that conclusion. For me the latest one was the above slide from Apple’s keynote today. It represents that Apple family of products. Pause. Look at it. Think about it for a few seconds.

Isn’t it an amazing slide?

There are 50,000 ways to represent Apple products. But, there is perhaps only one incredible way to do it. It is above.

I thought the same thing yesterday when I saw this slide. If I recall correctly, they even showed it a second time. It’s a brilliant visualization.

The commenters on Kaushik’s piece, however, disagree. Worth a read. (Via Ben Thompson.)

The iPad Zombie 

Allen Pike:

The only thing we can do as developers to disavow support for these devices is require a version of iOS that won’t run on them. Unfortunately, Apple will surely continue support for the A5 in iOS 9. If they do so, we won’t have a mechanism to cut off support for these old iPads mini and iPods touch until iOS 10 has reached wide adoption, likely in early 2017.

2017.

Christian Bale ‘in Talks’ to Play Steve Jobs in Sorkin/Boyle Movie 

He’s got the look and the intensity. Who knows if a good movie can be adapted from Isaacson’s shitty biography, but that’s good casting.

John Siracusa’s OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review 

What a gift it is that we, as a community, have a library of Siracusa’s reviews all the way back to the dawn of the platform. A remarkable body of work.

‘Apple SIM’: iPad Air 2 Can Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile 

Greg Kumparak, reporting for TechCrunch:

Whoaaa — here’s an interesting bit that went unmentioned in today’s Apple announcement: Apple has seemingly built a SIM card that lets you jump between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile without having to swap it out (or, more annoyingly, track down/purchase a new SIM card when you want to switch carriers). Instead of swapping the card, you just pick a new carrier through the device’s on screen settings. As it should be!

Tucked into a page about the iPad Air 2’s wireless connectivity, Apple calls the new SIM — aptly — “Apple SIM.”

Curious that Verizon isn’t in there. I wonder if that’s a technical compatibility issue with their network, or a strategic decision on Verizon’s part?

Personally, the international advantage alone means I wouldn’t even consider a Verizon model, even though I’m a Verizon iPhone customer with a shared family account.

Yours Truly, Speaking at XOXO in Portland Last Month 

Great crowd, great venue, and an amazing array of fellow speakers. It was a real honor and a thrill to speak at XOXO. Hope you enjoy it.

Luma Labs: Loop 3 

I wrote about the Luma Loop a few years ago, but now they’re back, with an even better camera sling. I’ve got one, and it really is a remarkable piece of kit. Every detail is considered. Just one, that’s probably my favorite — adjustability:

We adapted the Cinch’s slide adjusters; both front and back to let you lock your camera down instantly. On the move? A simple slide of the adjuster tightens the Loop down and raises the camera above your hip for maximum stability. Ready to take the shot? A quick pull is all it takes to free the camera for unrestricted motion.

Simple, easy, and useful. I go months at a time without taking my Canon 5D off my Luma Loop. Highly recommended.

‘How We Got to Now’ 

Neil Genzingler, reporting for the NYT on Steven Berlin Johnson’s new series for PBS:

The opening episode, for instance, is called “Clean,” and it sets the pattern for the five that follow. We tend not to acknowledge just how recent some of the trends and comforts of modern life are, including the luxury of not walking through horse manure and human waste on the way to the post office.

The episode turns back the clock just a century and a half, to a time before our liquid waste stream was largely contained in underground pipes. Mr. Johnson then traces the emergence of the idea that with a little effort, cities and towns could have a cleaner existence, and the concurrent idea that cleanliness would have public health benefits.

Sounds like a great show. Looking forward to it.

AsyncDisplayKit 

Another intriguing open source project for iOS from Facebook:

AsyncDisplayKit is an iOS framework that keeps even the most complex user interfaces smooth and responsive. It was originally built to make Facebook’s Paper possible, and goes hand-in-hand with pop’s physics-based animations — but it’s just as powerful with UIKit Dynamics and conventional app designs.

I truly love the design work Facebook’s iOS team is doing. In some ways it feels as though they’re out there ahead of everyone, even Apple itself.

Android 5.0 Lollipop 

Android looks a lot better than it used to, that’s for sure. Most of this was revealed at IO back in June, but Android now supports 64-bit ARM CPUs (and the new Nexus 9 tablet comes with one — not sure why the new Nexus 6 phone doesn’t).

Google Announces HTC-Made Nexus 9 Tablet 

It’s new tablet week, apparently. Chris Welch, The Verge:

Nexus 9 is available in either black or white and comes in three configurations: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $479, and an LTE-enabled 32GB model for $599. Sadly, you can’t expand that storage through microSD, so we’d recommend opting for the 32GB SKU.

No “sadly” for not being able to swap the battery out? No “sadly” for not including Flash Player?

More on the Mac App Store 

Michael Tsai has a nice roundup of additional commentary on Mac developers’ increasing frustrations with the Mac App Store. The one that gets me, and which seems under-remarked-upon, is how Apple’s own apps in the App Store are exempt from sandbox restrictions. Third-party apps are never on equal footing with Apple’s, but with sandboxing, it’s almost absurd.

Mac App Store: The Subtle Exodus 

Milen Dzhumerov:

Let me make it absolutely clear why I’m writing this. First and foremost, it’s because I deeply care about the Mac platform and its future, it pains me to see developers abandoning it. The Mac App Store can be so much better, it can sustain businesses and foster an ecosystem that values and rewards innovation and high quality software. But if you talk to developers behind the scenes or explore the Mac App Store, you’ll find something completely different.

Before we look at what the Mac App Store can do better, let’s take a moment and give credit where it’s due. The Mac App Store is simply the most convenient way to purchase and download software, bar none. Unfortunately, that’s where the good things end.

Remembering Macworld Expo 

Chris Breen:

At Expo careers were launched, plots hatched, businesses created, minds changed, and friends made. It was an event that we looked forward to for months and whose ideas resonated for years. And it wasn’t just us shmoes. I saw countless Apple employees who were just as excited about the show as I was. It was the center of the Apple universe. It mattered. And it mattered because it was about more than just products and promotion. It was equally about people.

King of Click: The IBM Model M Keyboard 

Nice feature by Adi Robertson for The Verge:

The first thing you notice about the IBM Model M keyboard, when you finally get your hands on it, is its size. After years of tapping chiclet keys and glass screens on two- and three-pound devices, hefting five pounds of plastic and metal (including a thick steel plate) is slightly intimidating. The second thing is the sound – the solid click that’s turned a standard-issue beige peripheral into one of the computer world’s most prized and useful antiques.

Next year, the Model M turns 30. But to many people, it’s still the only keyboard worth using. It was recently spotted on the desk of Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, attached to a gaming PC whose graphic cards alone cost thousands of dollars. “The Model M is basically the best keyboard ever made,” he told PC Gamer. YouTube has dozens of Model M typing demos, unboxing videos, and sound comparisons between it and other mechanical keyboards. Since its introduction, the Model M has been the standard to meet for keyboard excellence.

Buckling spring keyboards have never quite felt right for me, but I can certainly see the appeal — and without question they are distinctive. Every few years I get the itch to try a new mechanical keyboard, but I still haven’t found anything I prefer to the Apple Extended Keyboard II.

Macworld Expo Bids Adieu 

IDG World Expo:

We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015.

Goodbyes are in the air. Seems like a good time to re-read this piece I wrote back in 2009, after Apple withdrew from the show: “The Truth”.

Asymco: ‘What Next, Samsung?’ 

Horace Dediu:

What Samsung needs is a disruptive improvement. A disruptive improvement implies a new business model. Put another way, it means that Samsung needs to invent a new way of making money.

Good luck with that.

In a Flash Laser 

My thanks to In a Flash Laser for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. In a Flash Laser does amazing things with UV printing, laser cutting, and laser engraving. They decorate items ranging from iPads to coffee mugs. They work with businesses buying in bulk, and individuals buying one-off unique items.

Apple products are their specialty and they offer two colors of laser engraving, as well as full-color printing directly onto your device. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment, they also customize cases. (Apple’s leather cases come out great.)

They’re small, adaptable, social, and love to collaborate. Check out the examples at their website, and send them your project ideas today.

Update: Huge response, and their site is fireballed at the moment. Here’s a cached version of their home page to tide you over.

White-Hat Jerks 

Ross Floate:

As we move toward a model of the world where nearly every business is just a website with some people out the back, we’ve got to keep these jerks in mind and anticipate where they might fool around with your product to have what (to them) are a few childish laughs.

When we at Floate build things for people, I always ask “how could someone screw this up for shits and giggles?” People tend to think I’m joking but I’m deadly serious because if your site, network, or product becomes a playground for a bunch of jerks, it turns off the people whose time and attention you’re really trying to obtain. Almost nobody ever got a promotion doing that.

MacRumors: ‘Apple Reportedly Preparing to Remove Bose Audio Products From Retail Stores’ 

Kelly Hodgkins, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple is preparing to remove all Bose audio products, both demo and sellable, from its retail environment, according to a reliable source who spoke to MacRumors. The inventory change will begin early next week, with instructions for removal being sent to employees in the coming days.

The reasons behind this removal were not disclosed, but it is very likely tied to to Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats Electronics.

Dave Winer on Lock-In 

Dave Winer:

It’s true some patents hold, and some lock-in gets built on. Look at PDF for example. But there’s a reason HTML took us places PDF never could.

Cats Chasing Dogs 

From Gareth Beavis’s iPhone 6 review for TechRadar:

The rest of the interface is much as expected for an iPhone — and that’s a good thing in the eyes of most users. However, I will say that the touchscreen on the iPhone 6 isn’t as good as the competition — it doesn’t feel as responsive as the Project Butter / Project Svelte (and subsequent evolutions) that Android has been adding into the backend of its platform.

The problem manifests itself when swiping laterally through apps, and the internet browser doesn’t always have that super smooth reaction that I’ve come to expect from a modern smartphone.

I’m being really picky here, as it’s not a nuisance, but at the same time it’s perceptible compared to the competition, although nothing out of the ordinary for your average Apple user.

Really? I don’t know what Android phones he’s using, but man, if Chrome on Android is smoother-scrolling than Safari, that’s really something.

The Talk Show: ‘Copious Software Projects’ 

Special guest Guy English returns to the show to talk about iOS 8 quality concerns, and whether Apple’s annual software cycle is stretching the company too thin. Then things devolve into a bitter argument over the merits of file name extensions.

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Jony Ive Is Not Flattered by Xiaomi 

Kyle Russell, writing for TechCrunch on Ive’s appearance on stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit:

“Many years ago we made prototypes of phones with bigger screens. They were interesting features, having a bigger screen, but the end result was a lousy product, because they were big and clunky,” Ive noted when the panel’s moderator asked why it took so long for the iPhone to get bigger.

I’m pretty sure Russell just referred to Graydon Carter as simply “the panel’s moderator”.

When a member of the audience came up to ask a question about Xiaomi and their unofficial tagline of “the Apple of China,” Ive was very straightforward with his response: “I’ll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s gonna work, you spend 7 or 8 years working on something, and then it’s copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is OK at all.”

See also: Steve Kovach’s loose transcript at Business Insider.

Jony Ive on the Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs 

On stage with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter at the magazine’s New Establishment Summit. Interesting and thoughtful. (Via The Tech Block.)

Pointless Polls 

Sam Colt, writing for Business Insider, “Munster: Teens Aren’t Interested In The Apple Watch” (emphasis added):

Piper Jaffray conducted two surveys on the Apple Watch: one last spring and another this fall.

It found that 17% of teens were interested in “buying an iWatch for $350,” compared with 16% this fall. That’s a staggeringly low level of interest for an Apple product.

Munster notes that both surveys were conducted before the Apple Watch debuted — presumably more teens would be interested in purchasing the device now knowing what it looks like.

What’s the point of polling for interest in a product before it’s even unveiled? And for something like Apple Watch, and for a market like teenagers, before it’s been advertised?

‘Why Apple Pay Won’t Work’ 

Matt Krantz, writing for USA Today:

Investors and consumers might think Apple Pay is a game changer for the cash register. But new research shows there’s plenty of reason why Apple’s effort to dominate payments may not be as magical as some believe.

Apple Pay contains a variety of major shortcomings that will likely limit its ability to be the dominant form of payment in the future, according to a UBS note released to clients this week by analyst Steven Milunovich, quoting payments expert Richard Crone at Crone Consulting. The problems with Apple Pay stem from technical shortcomings of the system relative to other alternatives and the large fees Apple plans to charge, which banks will be eager to escape, the report says.

Filed in the pantry for future claim chowder.

End of the Road for The Magazine 

Glenn Fleishman:

Brittany Shoot, my managing editor, and I consider The Magazine a very successful experiment. As noted in our Kickstarter campaign, we’ve paid out over half a million dollars to contributors of all sorts over two years, and we have tens of thousands left to pay out this year. We’ve been profitable from the start, but ever less so. I’m a working stiff, and I can’t ride this all the way down. We’re going out happy with our work, delighted with our audience, and so ecstatic to have worked with so many terrific writers, artists, photographers, editors, designers, and others.

So, friends, this is the end. We will publish the next five issues, through Issue #58, and then say goodbye for now.

It was a good ride.

Bruce Schneier on iPhone Encryption and Law Enforcement 

Bruce Schneier:

This is why the FBI’s scare stories tend to wither after public scrutiny. A former FBI assistant director wrote about a kidnapped man who would never have been found without the ability of the FBI to decrypt an iPhone, only to retract the point hours later because it wasn’t true.

We’ve seen this game before. During the crypto wars of the 1990s, FBI Director Louis Freeh and others would repeatedly use the example of mobster John Gotti to illustrate why the ability to tap telephones was so vital. But the Gotti evidence was collected using a room bug, not a telephone tap. And those same scary criminal tropes were trotted out then, too. Back then we called them the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: pedophiles, kidnappers, drug dealers, and terrorists. Nothing has changed.

The uproar from law enforcement officials brings to mind a line from Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil. Charlton Heston’s character, Mexican drug enforcement agent Miguel Vargas, says, “A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state.”

(A masterpiece of a film, by the way. If you’ve never seen it, watch it.)

More DF RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

Speaking of revenue and pageviews, true story: I got an email yesterday from a sales rep at Taboola, pitching me on running their ads on DF. It included this line: “I see your site is not monetized at present, and I think there is room to do so in a non-intrusive manner that can still make you money.”

I don’t know what I love most about that. I think it’s that from the eyes of someone who sees Taboola ads as “non-intrusive”, what I’m doing at Daring Fireball doesn’t look like “monetization” at all. Needless to say, I find Taboola ads to be highly intrusive. (You may not be familiar with the “Taboola” name, but you’ve seen their ads. They look like this.)

DF’s weekly sponsorship system has worked wonderfully. I make a good living writing DF. Sponsors are happy with the results, and frequently return for subsequent sponsorships. And you, the readers, seem to be happy, with what are truly non-intrusive messages from sponsors who I think might truly be of interest to you. And it’s pretty cool that my model has paved the way for other small indie writers to do the same thing.

Not sure what’s going on with October, though. September sold out months in advance, and November is half-full already. But October remains wide open, including this current week, right now, today. With another Apple event next week, it’s going to be a busy month. If you’ve got a cool product or service you want to promote to the DF audience, get in touch and let’s make a deal.

Andrew Sullivan on Revenue for Journalism 

Andrew Sullivan, in an interview with Capital New York:

I think the only future for journalism is reader revenue. Without it, you are in danger of becoming a public relations or advertising company disguised as journalism, like Buzzfeed and even The Guardian. Buzzfeed is really an ad agency with some journalistic window dressing. They’re not the future of journalism; they’re the marginalization of it. And The New York Times, alas, is following suit with merry abandon.

I think he’s right about Buzzfeed, but in a different way. It’s not that reader revenue is the only future for journalism. It’s that pageview-driven revenue is a corrupting force. Pageview models so dominate online advertising that many people treat them as synonymous. They’re not. There are ways to do advertising online that don’t lead to the dangerous incentives (in a word, clickbait) and reader-hostile experiences that pageviews do.

Let a thousand non-pageview-driven revenue models bloom. Direct reader contributions are working well for Sullivan’s The Dish, and that’s great. But it’s not the only way.

WSJ: ‘Apple, Others Surprised by GT’s Bankruptcy Filing’ 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

A hint of troubles at GT came last month, when Apple said it wouldn’t use sapphire screens in its new iPhones, contrary to what many observers expected. Apple added to GT’s financial pressures by not making a final $139 million prepayment loan because GT hadn’t met the technical milestones laid out by the company, the people familiar with the matter said. GT had said earlier that it expected Apple to make that payment by the end of October.

Sounds like my first take wasn’t far from the mark.

Samsung’s Woes: Saved by the Chips 

The Economist on Samsung’s plunging profits:

Samsung seems to have a different plan, however. It is betting that its chip business, which has done well in the third quarter, will provide more of its growth. On October 6th the firm announced that it will spend nearly $15 billion on a new semiconductor plant in South Korea to meet the growing demand for processors in mobile devices. Although the decline of its smartphone business will not be an existential threat to Samsung, it remains to be seen whether making chips will replace all the profits it has lost.

Ironic in the way that Microsoft profits from Android, Samsung is a major component supplier for Apple, and thus profits from the sale of iPhones.


Note to Self: It’s the Storage Space, Stupid

Last night I speculated that the slow uptake of iOS 8 was about people not trusting Apple with iOS software updates — too many bugs, and too many friends and family members talking about those bugs. I still think there’s something to that angle.

But it’s very clear that I was wrong about what the primary factor is. The simple answer was staring me right in the face. It’s all about the over-the-air update requiring 5 GB of free storage space, and many people not having that much free space, and not knowing how or simply not wanting to deal with it.

I don’t think I have ever received so much reader feedback on a post in the history of Daring Fireball. Hundreds of emails. Dozens and dozens of replies on Twitter. All of them saying the exact same thing: that either they themselves or people they know want to upgrade to iOS 8 but haven’t yet or can’t because the OTA software update won’t fit on their devices.

Jonathan Hoover puts it well:

iOS 8 OTA update requires about 5GB of free space on the device. Most people, especially those who wouldn’t update until they get the badge on the settings app, don’t have 5GB free on their iPhone. They have no idea they can plug their iPhone into their computer and iTunes will update it. They don’t know they can free up space by downloading their pictures and videos to their computer. 

iPhone makes it so easy for casual users to take gigabytes of photos and videos but nearly impossible for those users to know what to do with them.

This is a serious problem for Apple, because all those 16 GB devices (let alone the 8 GB ones) aren’t going to suddenly gain more free storage space on their own. A lot of these devices might never get updated to iOS 8, but would if the OTA software worked. Unless they can rejigger the OTA software update to require less free space, iOS 8’s adoption rate might lag permanently.1

Which in turn brings to mind one of the closing paragraphs of my review of the new iPhones 6:

But I don’t understand why the entry level storage tier remained at a meager 16 GB. That seems downright punitive given how big panoramic photos and slo-mo HD videos are, and it sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at the three storage tiers together: 32/64/128 looks natural; 16/64/128 looks like a mistake. The original iPhone, seven years and eight product generations ago, had an 8 GB storage tier. The entry-level iPhones 6 are 50 times faster than that original iPhone, but have only twice the storage capacity. That’s just wrong. This is the single-most disappointing aspect of the new phones.

iOS itself takes up about 4 GB, so these 16 GB devices only have about 12 GB free right out of the box. If there is any way that Apple could have brought the base model storage up to 32 GB with the new iPhones, they should have. And it’s inexcusable that they’re still selling new devices with only 8 GB of storage.

If this decision was made simply in the interest of profit margins, and/or to nudge would-be entry-level-model buyers to the more expensive 64 GB mid-range models, whatever money Apple is making from this is not worth it, in the long run, compared to the collective goodwill they’re losing and the frustration they’re creating. 


  1. One small thing Apple could do: when alerting the user that there isn’t enough space to install the update, they could provide a link to this support article — “Resolve issues with an over-the-air iOS update” — which is actually quite helpful. 


Now Batting for the Yankees, Number 2

It felt like fall, not summer, last night in the northeast. Chilly and damp, dark already by the time the ballgame started just after seven o’clock. Yankee Stadium was sold out. Full house. Electric with anticipation.

For the last 20 years, a game like this — this weather, this place, this team, this crowd, this autumn smell in the air — meant one thing: postseason playoff baseball. Not this game though. Not this year. The Yankees had been eliminated from postseason contention the night before. The electricity came from the fact that this would be Derek Jeter’s last-ever home game. Remarkably, it would be the first and only home game he would ever play, in a 20-year career, where the Yankees had been eliminated from postseason contention. They call such games “meaningless games”, and Derek Jeter had never played one in Yankee Stadium.

And in a sense, it feels like he never did play a meaningless home game, because with the emotions, the crowd, the palpable sense of the ending of an era, there’s just no way that last night’s game could be called “meaningless”. It was clearly the single most meaningful game the Yankees played all season.

The Yankees today aren’t those Yankees from the first decade of Jeter’s career. But I remember those Yankees, the dynasty years, like yesterday. Joe Torre. Paul O’Neill. Tino Martinez. Bernie Williams. Jorge Posada. Andy Pettitte. Mariano Rivera. Of course Jeter would be the last of them to go. Of course.

The game played out well. Jeter slammed a double against the left-center wall in the first inning, so he’d acquitted himself nicely no matter what he did the remainder of the game. The memories flowed. Jeter came to bat in the 7th inning, with the bases loaded and one out. Tie game, 2-2. A broken bat slow grounder that wound up scoring two runs on a throwing error. Not pretty, but effective. Not a bad final at-bat, it felt like. Go-ahead RBI.

And then all too soon came the top of the 9th. Yankees leading 5-2, their outstanding closer, David Robertson, on the mound. This was it. Jeter’s final moments in pinstripes, on the field at shortstop. His entire life, all he ever wanted to be was the shortstop for the New York Yankees. Two long Orioles home runs, though, and it was all different. 5-5 tie game. There would be a bottom of the ninth. And batting third would be Jeter.

Jose Pirela bats first. Single to left. He’s replaced by speed demon Antoan Richardson. Center fielder Brett Gardner bunts, and Richardson moves to second.

One final time, Bob Sheppard’s voice booms through The Stadium. “Now batting for the Yankees, number 2, Derek Jeter. Number 2.

Winning run on second base. One out. Everyone in The Stadium is standing. I’m standing watching at home. My son, 10, is standing on the couch next to me. The tension is excruciating. First pitch, Jeter jumps on it with his signature inside-out swing. Single to right! Richardson beats the throw to the plate. Yankees win. Yankees win. Pandemonium. My boy jumps off the couch into my arms and we run around the house, hugging, screaming, laughing like the maniacs that we are.

Things like this just aren’t supposed to happen. Real-life endings aren’t like scripted storybook endings. Except with Jeter they so often were. That broken-bat RBI grounder in the 7th was a realistic ending. A spectacular walk-off game-winning single in the bottom of the 9th was not. It felt like the World Series. It felt like the old days.

“This is what it used to be like,” I told my son, “every single year. Something crazy always happened. And then someone for the Yankees always stepped up. Jeter was always in the middle of it. Every year. This is what it was like.” 


On Switching and Lock-In

This piece by Joshua Brustein for Businessweek — “Hey, Android Users, Don’t Buy the New iPhones” — is profoundly shallow:

For a Galaxy Note user, then, going over to the iPhone 6 Plus means building up again from zero. And for what? Apple’s operating system may be more intuitive to someone who has never touched a smartphone before, but it’s not going to be any easier for people who have spent over an hour staring at their Android phone every day for the last two to four years. Any benefits are probably outweighed by the drawbacks to abandoning the investment someone has already made.

I wouldn’t say it’s easy to switch from Android to iOS or vice versa, but looking at the history of personal computing, I think it’s easier to switch platforms today than ever before — in either direction. The move to cloud-based storage and syncing makes a lot of things less sticky. Gmail is Gmail. Dropbox is Dropbox. You can even access your iCloud email from Android, because it’s just IMAP. Add to that the fact that the overwhelming majority of mobile apps are free or extremely cheap.

Apple has posted a guide on switching from Android to iPhone, and it’s really pretty straightforward. Google could just as easily post a guide on switching from iPhone to Nexus. Brustein’s advice, to me, seems like an endorsement of laziness, ignorance, and tribalism.

Phone manufacturers make it hard to switch on purpose: They want you locked in forever. That’s the idea behind the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, which don’t work for Android. (Ditto for Samsung’s Gear S watch and Gear VR headset, which are made to work with the company’s other devices.)

This is just completely and utterly wrong. It’s shallow thinking. Lock-in is certainly something Apple (and Google, and Samsung, and everyone else) thinks about. But lock-in has nothing to do with why Apple Watch will only work with iPhone, or why Android Wear devices only work with Android phones.

Apple Watch can only work with iPhone because it does things that require the two be developed together. The hardware and software on both the Watch and iPhone all work together. Apple could make a watch that supports both iPhone and Android, but that watch wouldn’t work anything like Apple Watch, because it would be severely limited by the common features shared by iPhone and Android. And the same is true of Android Wear — it doesn’t work with iPhone because there’s no way Google can provide software that runs on an iPhone to do what Android Wear devices need their paired phone to do.

Pebble watches are cross-platform, but look at how severely limited they are in functionality compared to Android Wear and Apple Watch. And that’s not a slag against Pebble. They’re shipping. They’ve been shipping. And they have some devoted and happy users. And by doing so much less, they’re able to measure battery life in days instead of hours. But functionality-wise, something like Pebble is what you get if you set out to create something that works across iOS and Android, limited by the sandboxing rules for third-party apps. Apple Watch and Android Wear require software on the phone at the operating system level. Mobile apps can only provide shallow integration. To get deep integration requires software (and hardware) designed in coordination. Brustein’s argument is not too far removed from saying that we should be able to buy a Toyota Prius with a Tesla engine — like you can just mix and match these things like Lego bricks.

It’s a pipe dream to think that Apple Watch and Android Wear could be cross-platform without a drastic reduction in functionality, or to argue that they’re platform-dependent simply out of competitive spite in the name of platform lock-in.

Postscript: Keep in mind too that Google’s and Apple’s rivalry is asymmetric. Google is a very active, very popular developer of native iOS apps. They don’t treat iOS as a second-class platform — if anything, they’re more interested in iOS users because they’re a more lucrative demographic for advertisers. Apple’s only Android app is the one they bought with Beats Music. I think Google would support Android Wear from iPhone if they could, and who knows, maybe I’m underestimating just how much a background app can do in iOS 8. But even if Google unveils iPhone support for Android Wear, that too would only prove that Android Wear has nothing to do with trying to lock users in to Android. 


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