The Daring Fireball Linked List

‘It’s Just a Watch’ 

New branding campaign from Pebble. I like it. The playful, casual, colorful tone suits Pebble well, and the emphasis on price and battery life plays to Pebble’s strengths.

What gives me pause, though, is the “Breathe, Jony” headline. That seems a little petty. Personal, not playful.

Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones Settle; Terms Undisclosed 

Here’s to hoping this worked out fairly for everyone involved.

The Bézier Game 

Clever game to help you master the pen tool in design apps. (Via Mike Davidson.)

Immutable Mean Mutable? What a Country. 

I’m usually a Mat Honan fan, but his iPhone 6 Plus review was a clunker. Take this:

No matter what Steve Jobs may have said, big phones are better. It’s a great sign for Apple that it doesn’t revere his public statements as immutable truths.

That’s from like page one of the book Ways People Get Apple Completely Wrong. Apple never treated Jobs like a deity whose word was The Truth — neither before nor after his death. He was almost infamous for it. Wired itself ran a list of such statements back in 2010.

Nobody said it better than Tim Cook, though:

“He would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the one taking the 180 degree polar [opposite] position the day before,” Cook told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. “I saw it daily. This is a gift, because things do change, and it takes courage to change. It takes courage to say, ‘I was wrong.’ I think he had that.”

That’s just one small line, but it crystalizes the way the whole piece just seems confused.

Ariel Adams on Apple Watch 

Ariel Adams, writing on A Blog to Watch:

I feel that people need to understand that the Apple Watch is not only a new type of product for Apple, but the first real “cross-over watch” that wades in both the waters of technology and horology. For a moment, I’d like people to put aside their criticisms and complaints, and consider what I believe to be a future inevitability: the dominance of the smartwatch as a necessary tool in the everyday lives of everyday people.

Apple as a company doesn’t like the term “smartwatch” and will not refer to the Apple Watch as such. They didn’t call the iPhone a smartphone, and as far as they are concerned, it is a “watch” produced by Apple — hence the name.

Long piece, full of insightful observations.


Big news from my friend (and still, colleague) Brent Simmons:

I start my new job as a developer at the Omni Group today. You already know them and their wonderful products, and I’ve expressed my admiration for them here on my blog many times.

They’re assembling a Cocoa all-star team up there. There’s probably more concentrated Cocoa talent at Omni than anywhere other than Apple itself.

Steve Cheney: ‘On the Future of Apple and Google’ 

Steve Cheney:

System wide network effects are network effects that take hold when adjacent parts of an overall system are built out — e.g. smartphones, wearables, sensor networks etc. Each one of these categories makes the other much more valuable once it’s built out. These network effects effectively unlock compounded value from the previous layers. People expect value from new categories like wearables and sensor networks overnight. But the reality is that the pieces need to work harmoniously, tied together by software. And only after the infrastructure is in place can developers go and create cool new things. Wearables and sensors and connected devices are interesting — but much more so when tied together with killer apps. And platform history tells us that only after infrastructure is laid do developers write software. This was even true for the internet back in the 90’s. It wasn’t until the web browser and email and other killer apps came along that you really understood the value of the internet, even though it had connected people years earlier.

This is a great piece, thoughtful and thought-provoking. I find it surprising though, that Cheney never once used the word privacy. To me, that’s the fork in the road, the chasm between where Apple and Google are taking us.

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics 

David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT:

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers’ blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?

Andrew Wylie, whose client roster of heavyweights in literature is probably longer than that of any other literary agent, said he was asking all his writers whether they wanted to join the group, Authors United. Among those who have said yes, Mr. Wylie said in a phone interview from Paris, are Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera.

So glad the Department of Justice set all this straight by taking Apple to court.

What’s the Difference Between Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans Unicode, and Lucida Sans? 

Glad you asked.

The Talk Show: ‘The Edition Edition’, With Ben Thompson 

Special guest Ben Thompson joins the show for an Apple Watch discussion: what it’ll cost, what it’ll do, how it will be sold, and more. Other topics include “Bend-gate”, Apple’s growing prowess in mobile chip design, and Derek Jeter.

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MacUpdate’s Biggest App Bundle of the Year 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their biggest app bundle of the year. Save 90 percent off the regular combined price for all these apps, and get great software, including: Toast 12 Titanium, Circus Ponies NoteBook 4, Tonality Pro, Scrivener, iStat Menus 5, NetShade 6, SimCity 4 Deluxe, and more. Early buyers also get the productivity-boosting Ember, a 2013 “Best Mac App” pick by Apple.

11 great apps for just $49.99. Time is running out, so check out the offer today.

Consumer Reports iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Bend Test 

Consumer Reports:

All the phones we tested showed themselves to be pretty tough. The iPhone 6 Plus, the more robust of the new iPhones in our testing, started to deform when we reached 90 pounds of force, and came apart with 110 pounds of force. With those numbers, it slightly outperformed the HTC One (which is largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone), as well as the smaller iPhone 6, yet underperformed some other smart phones. […]

Below you can see the pictures of the smart phone carnage, but bear in mind that it took significant force to do this kind of damage to all these phones. While nothing is (evidently) indestructible, we expect that any of these phones should stand up to typical use.

Consumer Reports is the outfit that made Antennagate a thing. If anything, their reputation is such that you’d expect them to fan the flames on this, not extinguish them. They’re saying the iPhone 6 Plus is even more bend-resistant than the regular 6. This should put an end to Bendgate — but it won’t, because in the minds of the deranged, the new iPhones bend like a chocolate bar left out in the sun.

Inside the Building Where Apple Tortures the iPhone 6 

Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

A few blocks away from Apple’s bustling campus in Cupertino is a rather nondescript building. Inside is absolutely the last place on earth you’d want to be if you were an iPhone. It’s here where Apple subjects its newest models to the kinds of things they might run into in the real world: drops, pressure, twisting, tapping. Basically all the things that could turn your shiny gadget into a small pile of metal and glass.

FBI and Police Departments Endorse Apple’s Full Device Encryption 

The Washington Post:

FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.

I can’t think of a better endorsement of Apple and iOS.

“Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile,” said John J. Escalante, chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department. “The average pedophile at this point is probably thinking, I’ve got to get an Apple phone.”

Well, that didn’t take long. An even stronger endorsement. The pedophile card is pretty much the last resort for these law enforcement types who feel entitled to the content of our digital devices. Fear mongering with bogeymen and an appeal to base emotions.

Eternal vs. Ephemeral 

Nicolas Schobinger:

I could imagine that the Apple iWatch Edition will generate a lot of repeat buyers. A good trade-in program would recycle your precious metal and refund that to you. You could keep the straps. The price for your repeat purchase could be then a fraction of your initial buy. You could constantly renew your statement with the Edition line and stay current. Ephemeral disrupting Eternal.

Even if it’s not upgradeable (being able to replace S1 with an S2), there ought to be a decent trade-in value for the gold alone.

‘Apple Sells Lots of Devices, Pundits See Doom’ 

Busy week for The Macalope:

This is classic Apple derangement syndrome. Because one YouTube video maker bent one iPhone and could not bend one other Samsung device, no products competing against Apple are bendable. Not worth acknowledging is the fact that people who did some more rigorous testing say you kinda really have to try to bend the iPhone 6 Plus.

Layer Tennis: White vs. Taylor 

Look at the first two volleys in this match. How am I supposed to get any work done today?

Why Now for Apple Watch 

Good piece by Ben Thompson:

The question, then, is why 2015? After all, there are some key ingredients missing in the Watch, the most obvious being the lack of cellular capability. To my mind Apple had three alternatives:

  1. Release an accessory-like Watch today, then transform it into a standalone device once it had its own cellular stack
  2. Wait until the technology was ready and release a fully functional Watch in two or three years time
  3. Release a Watch in 2015 that is designed as if it is a fully functional device, even though for the next few years it needs an iPhone for full functionality

I am largely in agreement with Thompson about Apple having chosen #3.

The confusion about a standalone Watch that is technically not standalone may be too much to overcome from a marketing perspective. I definitely think this is why the presentation was so muddled: Apple wanted to convey that this was a standalone device that would one day be the only device we need all of the time, but they couldn’t actually say that.

That, and the fact that they have chosen to keep much of the Watch’s software secret. I think that’s partly because much of it is unfinished, but mainly out of competitive interests. They expect Apple Watch to be copied just as slavishly as the iPhone was, and don’t want to give their competitors a head start.

Apple Watch as a Standalone Device 

Amir Efrati, writing for The Information (paywall):

Apple doesn’t want to risk cannibalizing sales of the iPhone with a SIM-equipped watch.

That’s not why Apple Watch doesn’t have a SIM card or standalone Wi-Fi. Modern Apple has never been afraid to release products that cannibalize their own products. The iPad has clearly eaten into MacBook sales. The iPhone turned the iPod from Apple’s flagship product line into a small niche. (A company worried about cannibalization would have made a smartphone that required a tethered iPod for music playback.)

A few years down the line, I expect Apple to have a Watch that can replace your iPhone. The tech just isn’t there yet. Apple is already setting expectations for single-day battery life for the Apple Watch, at best. Adding cellular networking would make that significantly worse — and add physical heft.

Joanna Stern Reviews the BlackBerry Passport 

Joanna Stern:

BlackBerry says the apps and the store selection are being updated everyday. But the company’s chief operating officer Marty Beard admits many BlackBerry users also carry an Android phone or iPhone. In fact, that number is close to 40% — and includes billionaire adventurer Richard Branson.

Yet even if I did carry two phones, I wouldn’t pick the Passport. The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag.

Not good enough to be your second phone? Ouch.

‘Stacking Silly Pundit Tricks to Burn for Warmth’ 

The Macalope:

Look, all you need to do is get an Android phone from HTC for build quality. Then get an Android phone from Sony because their cameras are so good. Then get a Galaxy Note from Samsung for the largest screen. Then get a Nexus from Google to get a decent software experience. Finally, get a phone from Hauwei because they’re cheap. Then mash them all together and you’ve got one phone that’s better than the iPhone!

Afterlight 2.6: Support for iOS 8 Photo Filtering Extensions 

Joseph Keller, iMore:

You can now use Afterlight’s filters and editing tools without leaving the iOS Photos app. Simply open the available extensions when editing a photo, hit More, and turn Afterlight on. You can use Afterlight’s crop, rotate, color, and filter tools, among others.

The app has also added manual camera controls for taking pictures within the app, and has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Afterlight is one of my very favorite iOS photography apps, and the first one I use that supports the new iOS 8 photo filtering extensions.

The Verge Reviews the BlackBerry Passport 

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

Below the screen is what makes the Passport a true BlackBerry: it has a honest-to-goodness physical keyboard, something no other modern device offers. It’s a throwback to the keyboards that made BlackBerry smartphones so popular in years past, and BlackBerry says it’s essential for efficient productivity on the go. But the Passport’s three row layout isn’t as good as the older designs. It’s too wide, making it all but impossible to type the simplest words with one hand. And for some reason, the spacebar is jammed up into the third row of letters, splitting the keyboard and causing all kinds of confusion for my thumbs. I never got used to it and I remain a far faster and more accurate typist on a good virtual keyboard. It’s not clear to me why BlackBerry didn’t just make the Passport slightly longer to accommodate a fourth row of keys — it’s already a big phone, another quarter-inch wouldn’t make much of a difference in size but would go a long way to improving the keyboard.

Man, if the keyboard doesn’t make people happy, I’m not sure what the point of this is.

Weird Verge-ism toward the end (italics added):

Nobody would really argue that iOS is a super productive platform, but my iPhone offers the tools I need to get my job done, and the Passport does not.

Apple Releases, Then Pulls, iOS 8.0.1 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

Following the release of iOS 8.0.1 this morning, numerous of users found that their cellular service was disabled, reporting “No Service” messages after updating. Affected users also appear to be experiencing problems with Touch ID, which seems to be completely non-functional. […]

Apple has pulled iOS 8.0.1 from the Developer Center and it is also no longer available via an over-the-air download.


Update: If you already upgraded and are seeing any of these problems, Rene Ritchie has instructions for getting back to iOS 8.0.0.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Ming-Chi Kuo Nailed It 

Sometimes claim chowder comes out tasting good. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo absolutely nailed both new iPhones all the way back in April:

In line with previous rumors, Kuo believes the new 4.7-inch model will come with a 1334 × 750 Retina display at 326 pixels per inch, while the 5.5-inch will see a 1920 × 1080 screen at 401 PPI. Both devices will have the same aspect ratio to the iPhone 5, meaning apps will not need to be redesigned for the second time in three years.

The iPhone 6 will include a new A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, Touch ID, a narrower bezel by 10 to 20 percent, and the phone to be thinned to 6.5-7.0mm (the current iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick). He also expects Apple to finally include NFC chips in its smart phones.

So far as I can tell, Kuo was the first person anywhere to say 1334 × 750 for the 4.7-inch display, and the pixel math worked out perfectly. I disregarded his 1920 × 1080 dimensions for the 5.5-inch display because the math shows that such a display doesn’t even come close to working out at either @2x or @3x. What I failed to even consider is what Apple actually did: a 2208 × 1242 virtual display size that is scaled on-the-fly to 1920 × 1080. As I wrote in my review of the new iPhones, though it sounds like a recipe for blurriness, in practice, the pixels on the 6 Plus are so small that everything looks perfect. I haven’t seen any complaints from iPhone 6 Plus owners in the wild, either.

Kuo’s last-minute predictions were pretty close to the mark too, although he thought perhaps Apple would delay the release of the 6 Plus because of its supply constraints.

Chipworks Disassembles Apple’s A8 SoC 

In broad strokes, Chipworks’s analysis backs up what Phil Schiller told us on stage: the A8 is smaller, faster, and more efficient than the A7. And the competition still hasn’t caught up with the A7.

Smaller is the improvement that interests me most, because of that other product Apple announced two weeks ago.

WSJ: ‘iPhone 6 Is the Most Durable iPhone Yet’ 

Nathan Olivarez-Giles, writing for the WSJ:

The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may be the largest iPhones Apple has ever made, but they’re also the toughest, according to SquareTrade, a gadget insurer that publishes a “breakability” index.

Having put the new iPhones through its gauntlet of durability tests this weekend, SquareTrade found that the iPhone 6 holds up impressively well in drops, spills and slips — despite the fact that the new, thinner iPhones are tougher to hold onto given their smooth edges and bigger screens.

The iPhone 6 Plus fared well, too, managing to beat out Samsung’s Galaxy S5 as “the most durable phone with a screen larger than five inches.”

No word on the “sat on it in my ass pocket all day” test.

Get Bent 

I cannot believe that this “bent iPhone 6 Plus” thing is becoming a thing. Watch this jackass’s video — inexplicably promoted by Time magazine. Should not we be amazed that his phone didn’t snap in half under this pressure? That the glass didn’t fracture? Under pressure like this, bending but not breaking seems like an extraordinary feature. If you feel pressure like this on your iPhone 6 in your pocket, you need looser pants. And if you put your phone in your back pocket and sit on it, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Why SwiftKey Needs ‘Full Access’ 

This was very confusing to me when I tried out the SwiftKey keyboard for iOS:

Full Access simply means you are giving the keyboard extension permission to interact with the app (the SwiftKey app on your homescreen). None of your language insights leave your device unless you opt in to SwiftKey Cloud, which is a backup and sync service that also lets SwiftKey learn from your writing on sites like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Good to know that nothing at all gets sent over the network unless you opt-in.

My one-day impression: for two-thumb tap-typing, SwiftKey feels a lot like the iOS system keyboard. (That’s a compliment.) “Flow”, SwiftKey’s swipe-around-without-lifting-your-finger method, feels really slow for me. Judging from my followers on Twitter, it’s really popular with people who type one-handed on their phones, but personally I almost never do that. And when I do need to type something one-handed, I just use the speech-to-text dictate button. So SwiftKey is not for me, but I can see why one-hand phone typists love it.

‘Derek Jeter Opens the Door’ 

Nice profile for New York Magazine by Chris Smith, with photos by Christopher Anderson.

How to Be Right a Lot of the Time 

Jason Fried, relaying advice from Jeff Bezos:

He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

Manual for iPhone 

We have a winner for Best App Introduction of the Year.

Things That Were True on 8 September 2014 

I’m still catching up on my reading from the last two weeks. Here’s a good prelude to Apple’s event from Jon Bell:

So I’d like to write down a few things that we all know to be true on Monday, September 8, the day before Apple’s big announcement. It’s not that I think Apple’s new product will necessarily change the world, but it’d be interesting to have a way to compare the reality on the ground before and after Apple’s latest foray.

Samsung Exits Laptop Market in Europe 

Chris Martin, PC Advisor:

“We quickly adapt to market needs and demands. In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops including Chromebooks for now. This is specific to the region – and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

MacRumors: ‘Some iPhone 6 Plus Owners Accidentally Bending Their iPhones in Pockets’ 

Maybe this is why Samsung makes their big-ass phones out of plastic.

AnandTech: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Preliminary Benchmarks 

Here’s how utterly dominant Apple’s position is in mobile semiconductor design: not only are the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the two top scorers in web browser benchmarking, but in third place sits the year-old iPhone 5S.

Also worth noting: the iPhone 6 is seemingly on par with the 6 Plus performance-wise.

(And what’s up with AnandTech not getting review units in advance? You’d think they’d know a guy who could put in a good word for them with Apple.)

‘iPod’s Dirty Secret’ 

If the name Casey Neistat rings a bell, that’s because he’s the rabble-rouser who made this bullshit video back in 2003 claiming that iPod batteries only lasted 18 months.

From the DF archive: “More Accurate (but, Admittedly, Less Sensational) Alternative Stencil Slogans for the ‘Neistat Brothers’”.

Stu Maschwitz on Casey Neistat’s iPhone 6 ‘Black Market’ Movie 

Casey Neistat made waves over the weekend with a short film documenting the mercenary nature of the lines outside Apple Stores in New York City for the iPhones 6. And yes, a seemingly overwhelming number of the line-waiters were Asian, many of them non-English speakers. I noticed the same thing in Portland last year, when XOXO was scheduled the same weekend as the iPhone 5S and 5C going on sale. My hotel was across the street from Portland’s downtown Apple Store, the queue stretched all the way around the block and most of the people waiting in line seemed to be non-English-speaking Asians, not the least bit enthused about the iPhone itself.

Things have certainly changed from 2007, when the lines for the original iPhone were like Apple fan club meetings. But so what? The world has changed. Apple only sold about 6 million of the original iPhone in the course of a year. They will sell well over 100 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units before we’re here again with next year’s new models.

Count me with Stu Maschwitz: this film is pointless, and I think more than a little racist. When you can wait in line, pay $1000 for a new 6 Plus, then walk out of the store and resell it immediately for $1500 or more, that’s going to attract people who want to buy them for no reason other than to flip them. And I guarantee you not everyone waiting in line (or as they say in New York, on line) Friday morning to buy new iPhones just to flip them was Asian. And if the going rate in mainland China is over $2,500, as Quartz is reporting, then it makes all the more sense, simply as capitalism at work, that many of the line-waiters are Chinese-Americans looking to turn a profit.

The problems start right with the title: reselling iPhones is not “black market”. “Black market” means illegal, and there is nothing illegal about reselling a legally purchased iPhone. These phones are gray market, at worst. The leaked iPhone 6 units that came out of the supply chain weeks ago — those were black market goods.

Apple Pay Human Interface Guidelines (PDF) 

A friend sent me this link, with the quip, “So simple the HIG is less than 3 pages.” I pointed out there’s a title page, so let’s be honest and call it 4.

One line that stuck out to me:

Note that the Apple Pay sheet always displays text in all capital letters.

I wonder what the deal is with that? I’m guessing it’s a legacy shit sandwich from the existing credit card processing infrastructure.

‘Not a Hobby’ 

Michael Lopp:

While I use my Apple TV every single day, my opinion is the reason Apple calls it a hobby is because it’s a derived product. It’s a bit of iTunes, a little bit of iOS, there’s some hardware there, too, but it’s hardware you shove into a corner and never see. With all respect to the Apple TV team, there was nothing “Apple hard” in Apple TV’s design – that important innovative work has been done elsewhere.

The Apple Watch is not a hobby.

Definitely not a hobby.

‘Cheaper Than Rocks’ 

Ted Rall on Amazon’s Fire Phone.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S5 

Side-by-side comparison from The Onion.


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iPhone 6 Slow Motion Wine Pour 

Watch this beautiful footage, then think about how far we’ve come, so fast. The original iPhone’s camera didn’t even shoot video at all.

Six Colors 

And speaking of Jason Snell, this week he launched his new post-Macworld home: the perfectly named Six Colors. So good. Instant RSS subscription.

The whole Macworld thing is still a bit of a shock, but I think it’ll all work out for the best in the end. This gets Jason back to what he does best: writing.

‘Orson Welles of the Genre’ 

Also speaking of podcasts, Horace Dediu, Jason Snell, and yours truly were the guests on the latest episode of Moisés Chiullan’s Electric Shadow, talking about Apple and their use of cinema and cinematic techniques.

The Rebound 

Speaking of nerdy tech podcasts, there’s a good new one: The Rebound, starring my pal John Moltz.

‘Twenty-One Thousand Words’ 

New episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Rene Ritchie.

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Swatch Inventor on Apple Watch: ‘I Would Definitely Wear It’ 

Elmar Mock, inventor of the Swatch:

The Apple Watch is by far the most attractive of the smartwatches. I would definitely wear it. Don’t forget that the early smartphones did not immediately replace conventional mobile phones. When the iPhone first launched, Blackberry was sure that consumers would notice the lack of a keyboard and Nokia was convinced that the big screen would put users off…

The True Cost of a Subsidized iPhone 6 

Ed Bott:

Those contract prices include a $450 subsidy by the carriers, who are not in the business of giving money away. And they make sure they recover that subsidy. In some cases, they end up charging you hundreds of dollars more than you would lay out if you simply bought it outright.

After you add that device to your shopping cart, you then have to select a monthly plan and agree to pay the price of that plan for two years.

And guess what? For the three carriers that dominate the U.S. mobile market, the monthly prices for contract plans are significantly higher than those you will pay if you buy the phone outright or finance the full retail price.

The FTC ought to step in and force the carriers to clearly tell you the true price you’ll pay for your phone over the course of your two-year contract. And kudos to T-Mobile for being the only U.S. carrier with honest pricing.

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