Fonts are great, but using them well can be hard. Volumes have
been written about typography, yet every good designer will say
there are no rules; there is no magic formula for success.
Typography simply takes practice. Typography is a practice.
So today, we’re launching a new website: Typekit Practice, a place
where novices and experts alike can hone their typographic skills.
We hope it will help students learn, help teachers teach, and help
professionals stay sharp.
The company is planning to unveil a song-discovery feature in an
update of its iOS mobile software that will let users identify a
song and its artist using an iPhone or iPad, said two people with
knowledge of the product, who asked not to be identified because
the feature isn’t public. Apple is working with Shazam
Entertainment Ltd., whose technology can quickly spot what’s
playing by collecting sound from a phone’s microphone and matching
it against a song database. […]
Among the ways it can be used will be through Apple’s
voice-activated search feature, Siri. An iPhone user will be able
to say something like “what song is playing,” to find out the
tune’s details, one person said.
Sounds like a great feature. (Why not just acquire Shazam, though?)
It has been nearly a year since the first iOS 7 beta, and
something about tint color still bugs me. In fact it bothered me
enough at the time of the early betas that a filed a bug on it
with Apple, something I very rarely do. The problem isn’t so much
in the concept of tint color, which I like; having a consistent
color for buttons and links, especially now that buttons are so
understated, makes a lot of sense. The problem is the
implementation in apps that use tint color anytime they want to
highlight something, whether it is tappable or not.
Too many buttons that don’t look like buttons — that’s my single biggest gripe about iOS 7.
Carlos Hernández, writing for the Google Research blog:
Shallow depth of field makes the object of interest “pop” by
bringing the foreground into focus and de-emphasizing the
background. Achieving this optical effect has traditionally
required a big lens and aperture, and therefore hasn’t been
possible using the camera on your mobile phone or tablet.
That all changes with Lens Blur, a new mode in the Google Camera
app. It lets you take a photo with a shallow depth of field using
just your Android phone or tablet. Unlike a regular photo, Lens
Blur lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo
is taken. You can choose to make any object come into focus simply
by tapping on it in the image.
Interesting idea. Like filters, it’s another way to use software cleverness to work around the physical limitations of the small cameras in mobile devices.
But there is another form of ignorance which seems to be
universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of
innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term
and the inability to discern the difference between novelty,
creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to
understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence
the conditions that lead to economic growth.
This is a step toward understanding why so many people get Apple so very wrong. If you don’t understand what innovation really is, you’re not going to understand an innovative company.
Some might think that Yahoo doesn’t need to do as big a job as
Google or Bing does. Maybe it just needs to focus on answering
popular questions. That, however, overlooks the fact that if Yahoo
can’t answer virtually every question tossed at it, consumers will
get frustrated. For all the talk about mobile search, contextual
search, popular answers, predictive search, local listings, it’s
web search that remains the core foundation that everything is
built off of. If you don’t have that foundation, everything can
As Sullivan points out, after the maps switch, Apple is probably more gun-shy about dropping Google as the default web search provider than they otherwise would have been.
Speaking of great updates to my favorite Mac apps, the latest version of the amazing Tumult Hype — a professional HTML5 animation tool — has a slew of new features, including support for responsive design. Hard to believe this app costs only $30.
While seeing iOS devices on a big screen in Moscone West was
normal to us, we knew you’d never see Apple feature Android or
Windows Mobile devices in their keynotes.
Nor should they. That’s not a criticism — that’s just not Apple’s
thing. It’s the new Microsoft’s thing to be cosmopolitan.
I talked to a number of Microsoft employees — on the Azure side
— and got the same sense from all of them. They’re excited.
They know they’re underdogs; they know that Amazon Web Services is
They also know that the kind of dominance Microsoft once had —
where just about everything that computed ran Windows — is gone
and will never come back.
Could just be my skewed perspective, but one thing I didn’t see much of at Build were references to Android. Like Brent notes, there were many references to iPhone and iPad development, including demos during the keynote (not to mention Q Branch’s brief moment in the spotlight). But Android, not so much.
Microsoft has in no way given up on Windows Phone or the tablet market. But the change I detect is a narrowing of their focus. They now (correctly, I say) view Android/Google as their competition, rather than “everyone”. And there’s a decided “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing going on with iOS/Apple too. I hope Apple sees the same thing.
I’m a few weeks late linking to this, but I didn’t want to let it slide. Long-time iOS developer Justin Williams, on attending Microsoft’s Build developer conference:
One of the biggest differences I noticed between an event like
Build and WWDC was in the subtle messaging. Both Apple and
Microsoft are massive companies that make billions of dollars and
answer to their shareholders. Both companies also offer
development platforms for third-parties to integrate with.
What’s different though is that it feels like Microsoft is more
interested in working with us as a partner whereas Apple has
always given off a vibe of just sort of dealing with us because
they have to. Maybe that’s a little sour grapes, but as a
developer it was a nice change.
The differences from WWDC — especially since both were held in the same venue, Moscone West — were fascinating to me. Little things, like the keynote hall being arranged sideways (wide, rather than deep), to big things, like a press room that was open all conference long. At WWDC, press passes are good only for the Monday morning keynote; at Build, invited press can stay all conference long and attend sessions.
It’s not so much that Microsoft is friendlier, but rather that Apple is distant — cooler, in several senses of the word.
Peter Bright reviews Windows Phone 8.1 for Ars Technica:
Windows Phone 8.1, therefore, has a lot of work to do. It needs to take further steps along the path toward Microsoft’s vision of a unified operating system. It needs to work better on a wider range of hardware to both strengthen its position at the low end and give it a chance of making inroads at the high end. It needs to also offer features: it needs to do things to get people talking about the platform while attracting both users and developers.
Remarkably, Windows Phone 8.1 delivers on all fronts.
What is gunking up your screens is Samsung’s usual not-fully-thought-through assemblage of app flotsam. Why do you need one app for Gmail and another for other kinds of email accounts? Why do you need two photo apps — one from Samsung, one from Google? Two Settings apps? Two text-messaging apps? Two video players?
This is the dark side of the Android experience: One company makes the hardware, another makes the software. Now they’re becoming rivals, and we can already see who the loser will be: you.
My favorite part is the “one-handed mode”. And what’s the deal with all those inscrutable icons in the status bar?
This is a product I wanted to love, but ultimately, it just ended up being a huge disappointment. Hopefully Samsung can iterate quickly on the software, and move the platform forward to something that someone might actually want to buy. In the meantime, mine is going into my desk drawer.
What happens when Samsung doesn’t have a market leader to copy.
Matt Richman argues that Intel is a natural fit to manufacture ARM CPUs for Apple:
This arrangement would benefit both companies in a number of ways.
Apple would no longer depend upon Samsung, its biggest competitor,
to produce the chips at the heart of its most successful products.
(This is analogous to America asking China to build its most
advanced missiles and hoping the country won’t use any of the
top-secret technology it learns about for its own benefit when
it’s clearly in China’s best interest to do so.) And because Intel
has manufacturing capabilities that other companies don’t, Apple
might well be able to create better chips than it would be able to
if it were to continue using Samsung as its chip manufacturer.
Finally, the company would have peace of mind knowing that its
chip producer doesn’t stand to gain anything from a processor
shortfall, as Samsung does. Even if the factory were to cost $5
billion — and it wouldn’t — it’d be worth it. Steve Jobs said
Apple’s cash hoard is for “big, bold” “strategic opportunities”.
This move exemplifies that thinking.
Speaking of Chris Ware, I’m deeply intrigued by his thoughts on Apple, from a 2012 interview with Christopher Irving for Graphic NYC:
“I really admire Apple’s design, and feel that the general idea
and driving principle behind it almost since their inception is to
make information tactile. They’re finally getting to this point
now where one can manipulate information with the hands and the
body. As designers, they’re also so sensitive in ways that I don’t
think any other computer makers understand, as their chief
designer knows it has to do with very measured, combined
subtleties of tactility and weight and gesture and materials. In a
way, they’re almost a nineteenth century company, more sensitive
to the world of nature than to technology, or at least respectful
of it. I can certainly see reading comics electronically, with the
possibilities for inter-penetrability of story and image, but I
think comics will have to develop into something completely
different before that happens.”
Ever since I made this video of David Letterman talking to
drummers, I’ve wondered if he’s actually seen it. I recently
asked one of his writers, Bill Scheft, on Twitter. According to
Scheft, not only has Letterman watched it, but “he loved it as he
loved few things.” I realize that it just seems like I’m
bragging on the internet, but that’s about the greatest thing
I’ve ever heard.
With all the news surrounding Letterman’s retirement, it feels
like a fine time to revisit the video.
I remain highly skeptical that a modular design can compete in a product category where size, weight, and battery life are at such a premium. Even if they can bring something to market, why would any normal person be interested in a phone like this?
Unfortunately, I fear that tech-industry observers have completely
lost their perspective. As Rene has written, no matter how
big the wearables market gets, it’s still not going to touch the
IDC reported that in 2013, one billion smartphones were shipped,
up 38 percent from the previous year. That’s a fast-growing market
worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, on Thursday IDC
predicted that the wearables market will reach 112 million units
In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to
be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market — in units
shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items
will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar
value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to
the smartphone market.
The pricing issue is a big one: carrier-subsidized pricing blinds many people to the fact that iPhones really sell for $700-800 a pop. Some analyst predicted last week that Apple will sell watches “priced at several thousand dollars”. Maybe they will, but if they do, they sure as shit aren’t going to sell as many of them as they do iPhones.
It feels a lot more likely to me that any new wearable devices from Apple will be priced more along the line of iPods: in the $100-400 range. Maybe a little higher at the outset, coming down over time. (I wouldn’t even be surprised if they use the iPod brand for them.)
My thanks to Igloo — “the intranet you’ll actually like” — for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. This week Igloo introduced four new templates to help start your next intranet project. You can start with:
an app-based social intranet;
a corporate intranet;
a customer community;
or a partner portal
Igloo’s new templates share a unified visual language, but your Igloo can be fully designed to match your brand and the way your business is structured. All Igloo templates feature responsive design, so they looks great on any device — desktop, tablet, or phone. Igloo built its own public-facing website using the Igloo platform.
You can start using Igloo instantly and, amazingly, Igloo is free of charge for up to ten people.
Fedor Indutny, a core member of the node.js team, has proved that
it is in fact possible for an attacker to sniff out the private
SSL keys from a server left exposed by the Heartbleed bug. The
proof came in response to a challenge from CloudFlare that called
on the security community to grab the keys from a demo server.
Even judging by the low standards of creepy data-mining apps,
“Brightest Flashlight” did something pretty egregious. The free
app, which was installed by at least 50 million Android users,
transmitted users’ real-time locations to ad networks and other
third parties. It was, in other words, a stalking device disguised
as a flashlight.
Comic fans may groan about the sale — it’s always sad when a plucky, groundbreaking start-up is bought out by a corporate giant — but Amazon’s track record with purchases is actually pretty good. The company has bought Zappos, Goodreads, Woot, and Audible, all of which continue to operate more or less as they did before, rather than being integrated into Amazon.com.
Sweet typography-centric playing card design by Robert Padbury. The Kickstarter project is just a few days old, but already fully-funded. I say we all pile on and make this project a big hit. (Bonus: the t-shirts are being printed by my pal Brian Jaramillo, who’s handled all DF t-shirts for many years.)
This week we learned, thanks to a February 2012 internal Samsung
document marked “top secret” and unearthed by Apple as part of its
ongoing patent infringement proceedings, that we were right and
those more credulous news outlets were wrong.
When Strategy Analytics was telling the world that Samsung sold 2
million Galaxy Tabs in six weeks, the truth was that it took
Samsung all of 2011 to sell half that many.
Shocker. But as Elmer-DeWitt points out, the blame doesn’t lie solely with Samsung or even Strategy Analytics — it lies also with the news outlets that gleefully passed along the report as fact. The reason: they wanted it to be true. iPad Continues to Dominate Tablet Sales is a boring story.
And now, some bad (but unsurprising) Heartbleed news, reported by Michael Riley for Bloomberg:
The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years
about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive
information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it
to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national
security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over
the role of the government’s top computer experts.
Wonderful remembrance of Steve Jobs from Don Melton
So Steve started the rehearsal, going through slides on the
“Switcher” ad campaign and then the Apple Stores.
At the end of the retail update, he was supposed to conclude
with something like “1.4 million visitors in the month of
December alone,” but he added, “so to all of you in the press
who doubted us…”
And then clicked to reveal his special slide — poster art I’m
sure everyone has seen before — a 1940’s-style rendering of a
grinning man holding a big mug of coffee next to his face with
this text alongside like a world balloon:
“How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up.”
And then the best part — the part we didn’t know was coming —
Steve paused, turned to his V.P. of Marketing and deadpanned,
“What do you think, Phil? Too much?”
Some potentially good news on the OppenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability front, from CloudFlare:
While the vulnerability seems likely to put private key data at
risk, to date there have been no verified reports of actual
private keys being exposed. At CloudFlare, we received early
warning of the Heartbleed vulnerability and patched our systems 12
days ago. We’ve spent much of the time running extensive tests to
figure out what can be exposed via Heartbleed and, specifically,
to understand if private SSL key data was at risk.
Here’s the good news: after extensive testing on our software
stack, we have been unable to successfully use Heartbleed on a
vulnerable server to retrieve any private key data. Note that is
not the same as saying it is impossible to use Heartbleed to get
private keys. We do not yet feel comfortable saying that. However,
if it is possible, it is at a minimum very hard. And, we have
reason to believe based on the data structures used by OpenSSL and
the modified version of NGINX that we use, that it may in fact be
And now, back to changing passwords on a slew of my accounts around the web.
Pamela Vagata and Kevin Wilfong, writing for the Facebook Engineering Blog:
At Facebook, we have unique storage scalability challenges when it comes to our data warehouse. Our warehouse stores upwards of 300 PB of Hive data, with an incoming daily rate of about 600 TB. In the last year, the warehouse has seen a 3x growth in the amount of data stored. Given this growth trajectory, storage efficiency is and will continue to be a focus for our warehouse infrastructure.
600 TB of incoming data per day is mind-blowing. I can’t fathom it. And it’s great that they’re sharing this information. There can’t be that many entities dealing with this scale of data storage, and the others likely aren’t sharing what they’ve learned. This is the cutting edge of computer science.
Eye-opening feature by Steven Godfrey for SBNation on the stream of money paid to college football recruits and players:
Remember, your job as a bag man isn’t to hide the benefit. It’s to
hide the proof. In a region as passionate about college football
as the American South, there’s no real moral outrage when new cars
or clothes or jobs for relatives appear.
“We can only get away with whatever’s considered reasonable by the
majority of the folks in our society. That’s why it’s different in
the SEC. Maybe that’s why we’re able to be more active in what we
do. Because no one ever looks at the car or the jewelry and says,
‘How did you get that, poor football player?’ They say, ‘How did
they get you that and not get caught, poor football player?’”
Joshua Brustein, reporting for Businessweek on the Jonathan Hoefler/Tobias Frere-Jones breakup:
Several designers I spoke with said they were under the impression
that Hoefler was almost exclusively focused on managing the
business in recent years, leaving design to Frere-Jones. This
makes it easy to cast Hoefler in the role of the villain
exploiting the work of a naïve genius. But Hoefler and
Frere-Jones’s relationship was more complicated than that, says
Mike Essl, who teaches design at Cooper Union. Hoefler had all of
Frere-Jones’s design chops, but also had the ability to propel
Frere-Jones to prominence in a way he couldn’t have done on his
own. Business partnerships rarely last forever, says Essl, and
when they end, it’s often ugly. “Van Halen isn’t going to be Van
Halen forever,” he says. “Someone is going to leave.”
Tucked away near the end of a Businessweek article on the startup
is news of Rice taking a fourth seat on the board:
The former secretary of state’s consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates,
has been advising the startup on management issues for the last
year. Now she’ll help the company think about such matters as
international expansion and privacy, an issue that dogs every
cloud company in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA.
Here’s an argument for counting them as “both, sometimes”:
Quantcast, the Web measurement/ad company, says nearly a quarter
of mobile Web views may be coming from in-app browsers running on
Facebook or Twitter. That is: People who click on links and open
up stories are in apps and on the Web, at the same time.
Yes, fans of Colbert “in character” will miss his show, but the
truth is that the format, despite being an excellent vehicle that
launched Colbert to stardom, was far too limiting for Colbert’s
talent. He’s absolutely going to blossom with this new freedom.
From his time on Strangers With Candy to The Daily Show and
The Colbert Report, he’s shown his comedic talent in various
forms with an improve performer’s fluidity. Those are traits that
will make him instantly watchable doing his own taped (and live)
skits on The Late Show, plus they will serve him well behind the
desk doing interviews.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Mr. Colbert said in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
He added: “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
Great choice. Should keep Late Show the funniest of the late night shows.
According to multiple sources inside and outside the company,
Christie’s exit has been known for weeks — and planned for even
longer. His stepping aside has been designed to allow for a
transition of leadership inside the Human Interface group.
Christie worked under Forstall for many years, and there may have
been plenty of times he didn’t agree with Ive, but there has
reportedly been a distinct lack of drama in this transition.
If there was any ill-will between Christie and Ive, it doesn’t
appear to have taken the form of any open conflict and a flare-up
of friction was apparently not behind this exit.
Mr. Christie’s group will report to Mr. Ive, who is Apple’s senior
vice president of design, according to the email. The team
previously reported to Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief.
“Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20
years at Apple,” said a company spokesman. “He has made vital
contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a
world-class human interface team which has worked closely with
[Jonathan] for many years.”
I’ve been asking around since the news broke this afternoon. What I’ve heard, from several sources: Christie and Ive may not see eye to eye on UI design style, but his departure isn’t nearly as contentious as Mark Gurman’s report at 9to5Mac implies. The basic gist I’ve heard is that Christie is a guy who’s been in a high-pressure, high-profile job for 18 years, most of it reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s made a lot of money and is ready to enjoy it. That’s largely in line with the Apple PR line given to the WSJ, but I heard all of this from ground-level Cupertino-area pixel-pushing designers.
Interestingly, Christie’s retirement was announced internally a few weeks ago — yet it didn’t leak outside the company until today. Also interesting (and backing up the company line that his departure is not contentious): he’s staying at the company until later this year — and from what I’ve heard, it’s more like “end of the year”. If it’s ugly, why hang around?
There’s no way to spin the fact that Ive is taking more authority (or perhaps better said, consolidating all aspects of “design” under his direct authority), and surely that played some part in Christie’s decision. But from what I’ve gathered, it is wrong to think that Ive in any way forced Christie out.
Following friction between top Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie and Senior Vice President Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware and software design is being dramatically shaken up, according to sources familiar with the matter. After adding human interface design direction to his responsibilities in 2012, Ive will soon completely subsume Apple’s software design group, wresting control away from long-time human interface design chief Christie, according to sources briefed on the matter.
Huge deal. Christie’s influence over the look and feel of OS X and (at least pre-7) iOS cannot be overstated. Say goodbye to Lucida Grande in OS X.
Special guest Ed Bott joins me for a special episode of my podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco last week. Topics include the news from the conference — including Windows Phone 8.1 — and a broader look at the new Microsoft and its position in the industry.
The Daring Fireball Linked List is a daily list of interesting links
and brief commentary, updated frequently but not frenetically. Call it
a “link log”, or “linkblog”, or just “a good way to dick around on the
Internet for a few minutes a day”.