Linked List: December 2011

An Interview With Notational Velocity Developer Zachary Schneirov 

Interesting interview by Surat Lozowick.

Robert Khoo on the Business Side of Penny Arcade 

From a Q&A on Reddit:

What would you say is the biggest perk about your job?

I can honestly say it’s being able to build and run a company in a way that I always thought companies SHOULD be run. We have no outside investors. We don’t bend to client pressure. Our only responsibility is to our readers. Being able to make business decisions each and every day with absolute clarity is something I think every business guy would be envious of.

Perfect.

This Will Be Fun a Year From Now 

Brian Deagon, Investors Business Daily:

Apple will lose its cool factor.

With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple redefined markets and defined cool. But what’s left? The iPhone is boxy, flat and feeling stale. The Samsung Galaxy smartphone seems cooler. With Google’s Android platform now the fastest-growing mobile OS, Apple’s software advantage will diminish. Smartphones and tablets will become commodity items and Apple will be eaten by the collective Android gang. Apple’s next big hope is the TV market, a tough nut to crack and where Samsung is king.

Tapfolio for iPad 

My thanks to Tapfolio for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Tapfolio is a new animated, interactive stock market app designed specifically for the iPad, with a great native UI and feel. Set up your real or fantasy portfolio in just seconds. Tapfolio’s graphs allow you to swipe and pinch-to-zoom your portfolio and visualize gains/losses instantly with real-time overlays. Compare up to five stocks over any arbitrary time period with a tap, and follow stock indexes or the price of gold with another tap.

It’s really nice. And, as a holiday promotion, Tapfolio is currently available for free on the App Store.

Correction: Still at War With Eurasia 

MG Siegler:

I reached out to Twitter about this possibility yesterday and they got back to me today confirming that it was a bug which deleted Rubin’s tweet. They fixed the bug, and the tweet has been restored

Glad to hear Android is in fact still open.

By the way, anyone else curious to see some other tweets that were affected by this bug?

DigiTimes Claim Chowder 

DigiTimes “reports”:

Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPad — which will come in two versions — at the iWorld scheduled for January 26, 2012, according to sources at its supply chain partners. The new models will join the existing iPad 2 to demonstrate Apple’s complete iPad series targeting the entry-level, mid-range and high-end market segments, the sources claimed.

False. Apple isn’t unveiling anything at iWorld. And if there are two new models, I’m pretty sure that’s the same as with iPads 1 and 2: Wi-Fi-only and 3G. (It would make sense if the iPad 3 were like the iPhone 4S, with a single cellular model that works on both GSM and CDMA networks.)

Instead of the previously-rumored 7.85-inch, the upcoming iPad models will still feature 9.7-inch screens but come with QXGA resolution (1,536 × 2,048 pixels), the sources indicated.

“Previously-rumored” 7.85-inch screen, huh? Previously-rumored according to whom? Oh, that’s right — by the bozos at DigiTimes two weeks ago. The simple boring truth is, the iPad 3 has been planned to have a 9.7-inch 2,048 × 1,536 display all along.

Dropbox vs. iCloud 

Stephen Hackett:

iCloud may become a direct competitor of Dropbox’s, but the purposes of the services are different at this point.

Dropbox’s main usage is to sync files; iCloud would have users sync data, hiding the individual files from the user interface.

Perhaps not a bad definition of a post-PC device: one with no user-visible file system. Dropbox is very much a PC technology, conceptually, because it is all about the file system. That’s why we nerds love Dropbox on our post-PC devices — it gives us some PC-like control. Sometimes we want files.

Shawn Blanc Reviews the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 

Detailed and insightful. Nicely separates the hardware from the software.

Bullshit 

Not a bad synopsis of the industry titans.

The Dumbest Idea in the World: Maximizing Shareholder Value 

Fascinating, bracing article by Steve Denning in Forbes based on Roger L. Martin’s new book, Fixing the Game:

Martin says that the trouble began in 1976 when finance professor Michael Jensen and Dean William Meckling of the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester published a seemingly innocuous paper in the Journal of Financial Economics entitled “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure.” […]

The principal-agent problem occurs, the article argued, because agents have an inherent incentive to optimize activities and resources for themselves rather than for their principals. Ignoring Peter Drucker’s foundational insight of 1973 that the only valid purpose of a firm is to create a customer, Jensen and Meckling argued that the singular goal of a company should be to maximize the return to shareholders.

Eye-opening, common-sense argument.

The Definition of Open Is Missing 

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Update: The definition of open has been found.

People Who Didn’t Get What They Wanted for Christmas 

This is what I mean about consumer demand and brand awareness.

Why Android Updates Are a Mess: It’s the Business Model 

Ed Bott:

The Android community is traveling along a path that the old Windows Mobile platform followed a few years ago. It was a disaster then, and Microsoft wisely abandoned that entire business model when it developed Windows Phone 7. Alas, Google doesn’t have that option, which means that Android users are going to continue to face a mess when it comes to updates.

The Windows Phone Problem in Three Words: Way Too Late. 

MG Siegler:

Two to three years in the hole, the only way Windows Phone can win the market now is to make a product that is leaps and bounds better than what’s out there. They need something that’s an iPhone-in-2007 type product. The product they have, while good, isn’t that.

It’s not enough to be better. (And we can argue as to whether iOS or Android or Windows Phone is better.) You need to present a product so good that people have to buy it. Windows Phone isn’t close to being that. I’m sorry, but it’s just not.

That’s the flip side of the problem for Microsoft. They don’t have strong carrier support because the carriers prefer Android, which gives them more control. And they don’t have consumer demand because they were too late. (And, as I’ve said before, I think the “Windows” brand hurts them here. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t sound like a new platform. It sounds like an old one. They should have called it Metro 1.0)

Why Hasn’t Windows Phone Taken Off? 

Charlie Kindel:

The carriers choose what devices get featured on those TV ads. They also choose what devices to train their RSP (retail sales professionals) to push. They choose to incent the RSPs to push one device over another.

And the carriers prefer Android because Android gives them control. So when Joe Customer walks into his local phone store and asks the sales guy which phone he should buy, he’s very likely to be shown an Android handset, and unlikely to be shown a Windows handset. So far so good. But he’s wrong about Apple:

[…] Apple has been successful (at least in terms of generating revenue) in this space by cutting the device manufacturer out. They have then used that fact to force the carriers into being even more of a fat dumb pipe. A topic for another day, but my belief is over time this strategy will start to deteriorate for Apple.

It’s a decidedly Microsoftian perspective to say that Apple “cut the device manufacturer out”. That’s just looking at the market as regards OS platforms, and misses the whole point of what Apple does. Apple is the device manufacturer.

The carriers don’t like the iPhone much, either, for the same reason they seemingly don’t like Windows Phone: control. And Apple controls more than Microsoft does. The difference is that Apple was able to create consumer demand and massive brand awareness for the iPhone. People go into stores and say “I want an iPhone”.

Louis C.K.’s Shameful Dirty Comedy 

Frank Chimero:

It always feels like there’s a comedian willing to address contemporary concerns with insight and honesty for each moment in time. All the greats had their focus: Richard Pryor and Chris Rock had race, George Carlin had absurdity, and I think Louis has hit on some sort of subterranean undercurrent of emotion that I didn’t realize might be swelling until I listened more closely: shame.

Google to Pay Mozilla Almost $300 Million Per Year to Remain Default Search Engine in Firefox 

Just me, or is the relationship between Mozilla and Google really weird?

Nope, not just me.

‘Gamification’ Sucks 

Brent Simmons:

I can’t prove that good software respects people, but I can look at good software and show how it respects people. I can look at bad software and show how it doesn’t respect people.

The Little App Factory 

My thanks to The Little App Factory for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They’ve got a great holiday deal for DF readers: use coupon code “DARINGHOLIDAY2012” and save 20 percent off every app on their website, including the award winning RipIt, iRip, and Tagalicious. A great deal on some of my very favorite Mac apps.

The Dearth of Android Software Updates 

Matthew Panzarino, writing at The Next Web:

The problem isn’t Samsung, it’s systemic to Android as a whole. The makers of Android hardware see little benefit in updating even devices that are less than a year old. And, though I think it’s a punk move, I don’t blame them. There is little to no return to be had.

It’s almost certain that this is what the executives at these Android device makers think, too. Why bother with software updates? We’ve got their money. Let them buy a new device if they want the latest software.

But I strongly disagree that there is no return to be had. The one company that provides a different approach — Apple — is the one company with the most profits, the most loyal customers, and its own chain of insanely crowded retail stores. Can you prove that Apple is thriving because it takes much better care of its existing customers than do any of its competitors? I guess not. But it’s the difference between a company that simply wants to sell you a device, and a company that wants to sell you a device and make you happy that you bought it. Making a sale versus fostering a relationship between customer and the company.

One company clearly has more respect for its customers; that company is also clearly more successful. If you don’t see the connection, go ahead and keep your head in the sand.

Advertising on Facebook 

Facebook:

It now costs over a billion dollars a year to run Facebook, and delivering ads is how Facebook pays for this.

Translation: Get your boots on and your shovel ready.

H.R. Fluffypuff 

This week’s episode of America’s favorite Peter Jackson podcast, The Talk Show. Topics include a bunch of nonsense about Android updates and tablets, RIM’s problems, my driving record, and a million-dollar idea for a new iOS text editor. Brought to you by the fine folks at TinyLetter and Uncle Slam.

Should Have Quit While He Was Ahead 

John C. Dvorak:

I’m often asked at what point should someone short high-flying Apple shares? My response is simple: When the company starts closing stores and pulling back from retail, then the tide has turned.

Not a bad metric. I too would consider a retail pull-back to be a dead canary in the Apple coal mine.

I see no reason why Apple cannot have 1,000 stores that would all be successful. Staples Inc., the office-supply chain, has 2,000-plus stores. Apple seems so adept at retail that there is no reason to doubt that it could go out and buy a company like Staples to expand in the sector. Why not?

Yeah, sometimes I go into a store and get confused as to whether I’m in a Staples or Apple Store.

‘Prometheus’ 

Looks like Ridley Scott still has it.

Samsung: Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab to Get Shit Sandwich Upgrade 

Vlad Savov:

Samsung has just distributed the worst news of this Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade cycle: the popular Galaxy S smartphone that sold 10 million units last year and the 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablet won’t be upgraded to Android 4.0. The company’s argument is that they lack sufficient RAM and ROM to run the new OS alongside TouchWiz and other “experience-enhancing” software.

Android is not a single platform. It’s a common foundation upon which platforms can be built.

Update: I like this reformulation from “Relative Sanity” on Twitter: “It’s a development platform, not a computing platform. That’s why tech commentators can’t see the difference.”

That Exact Nonsense 

Penn Jillette, in his book, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist:

There is no god and that’s the simple truth. If every trace of any single religion died out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

(Via Kottke.)

700,000 Daily Activations 

Amit Runchal:

The last time Rubin talked about Android activations was back in June, when he said that 500,000 devices were being activated daily, and that they were seeing week-to-week activation growth of 4.4%. There’ve been about 25 weeks between the two tweets. Some quick math reveals that week-to-week growth since June hasn’t been anywhere close to the 4.4% Rubin was seeing. It’s now closer to 1.4%.

The slope seems to be tapering off on Horace Dediu’s graph, too.

New Release of Firefox for Android, Optimized for Tablets 

On the one hand, Firefox is ideally positioned to prove that Apple’s App Store policies are holding iOS back. A Firefox for Android that is best-of-breed for touchscreen post-PC devices but banned by App Store policies could either force Apple to open up or move Android ahead.

On the other hand, watch this video. Even in Mozilla’s own demo — which presumably puts Firefox for Android in its best light —doesn’t the whole thing look a bit herky-jerky, in terms of touch responsiveness and scrolling smoothness?

A Christmas Message From America’s Rich 

Matt Taibbi:

Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.

What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.

Most of us 99-percenters couldn’t even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It’s called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don’t do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn’t take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life’s savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.

It’s the cheating.

Vanity Fair on the Uselessness of TSA 

$1.1 trillion down the toilet. Enjoy your holiday air travel.

Hasbro Sues Asus Over Transformer Prime Tablet 

Sean Hollister:

Hasbro sued Asus over the name of its Transformer Prime tablet last week, in a federal district court. The toymaker is no doubt worried that the name could be confused with that of its Transformers franchise, not to mention Optimus Prime, the lead protagonist of the animation and film series.

Asus should sue Michael Bay for having made those godawful movies.

Quicken for Mac Not Dead Yet 

Aaron Forth, Intuit:

As you may know, Quicken for Mac 2007 does not currently work on Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). I understand the frustration this may have caused you and have put a team in place to address this issue. I am happy to announce that we will have a solution that makes Quicken 2007 for Mac “Lion-compatible” by early spring.

You know your app has fallen behind when you’re making promises about a version whose model year was five years ago.

Seems like Intuit finally sees which way the wind is blowing, though.

How to Prevent Stolen iMessages 

Lex Friedman:

Macworld can confirm that perhaps the easiest way to ensure that a stolen phone stops receiving iMessages is to remotely wipe the phone, and then call your carrier and instruct them to deactivate your old SIM. The third and final step? Activate a new SIM in your new phone.

The Truth About Microsoft and CES 

Josh Topolsky:

It seems like the Cupertino method of choosing the time and place for your product launches has firmly steeped in the mind of the industry, and it raises the question as to whether broader shows such as CES have the long-term staying power compared with more focused events such as E3 or Mobile World Congress.

Typical fanboy.

‘Fuck Me? No. Fuck You.’ 

Did Microsoft leave CES — or vice versa? Get your popcorn.

iTunes Store Now Available Across Latin America 

Anna Heim, The Next Web:

From Argentina to Panama, from Chile to Venezuela, iTunes’ users across the region can now enjoy Apple’s content of all types. In other words, they’ll be able to buy songs from iTunes Music Store and to rent or buy movies in its “Peliculas” section.

The race is on to cover the globe.

The App Store and China 

Darrell Etherington, GigaOm:

When comparing the two countries, the Chinese App Store for iPhone devices was just 18 percent of download volume vs the U.S. at the beginning of 2011. By November, that share had climbed to 30 percent, meaning China jumped from less than a quarter to nearly a third over a 10-month period. The numbers are even more interesting when examining the iPad: China’s take is just south of 50 percent of combined downloads between the two countries.

I think sooner than later, China will be Apple’s biggest market.

Next Month to Be Final CES Keynote for Microsoft 

Microsoft:

After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.

Sounds familiar.

15 Years Ago Today 

Apple acquired NeXT. Not a bad move.

(Good thing I wasn’t then yet writing DF, or I’d have to eat some claim chowder about their not choosing Be.)

Jesse Hollington on the iMessage/Stolen iPhone Thing 

Jesse Hollington:

On Apple’s side, a great solution to this particular problem would be to simply refuse to reactivate any services after a remote wipe until some type of authentication has occurred. However, there is something that everybody can do now and IMHO everybody should be doing anyway if you’re at all concerned about any GSM phone falling into the wrong hands…

Set a PIN code on your SIM card.

Update: Setting a SIM PIN isn’t as easy as it seems. Matt Drance:

Enormous omission: Many SIMs have default PINs. You can lock yourself out by “setting” a new one.

Here’s AT&T’s FAQ. The iPhone UI for this is indeed terrible — it gives you no indication that it’s prompting you for an existing PIN.

Santa’s Little Helper 

Speaking of four days from now.

Estimating Kindle Sales 

Amazon announced Kindle sales are running over one million per week. David Smith attempts to break it down by model. The Fire, almost certainly, is selling best.

(I’ll bet we start seeing a lot more Fires in our web server stats starting in four days.)

Amazon Makes the Fire Less Balky 

David Pogue, on the first over-the-air software update for the Kindle Fire:

Sure enough: the home screen “carousel,” a rotating shelf that holds all of your books, magazines and movies, now stops on a dime when you want it to. It takes only one tap to open something instead of several frustrating ones. When you do tap something, it opens faster and more fluidly. Page turns are smoother, especially in magazines.

Reuters: Apple Buys Israel’s Anobit for $500 Million 

That’s about 1/162nd of Apple’s cash.

iPhone 4S One of Six ‘Biggest Technology Flops of 2011’ 

Taylor Hatmaker, writing for Tecca:

While it’s no flop when it comes to sales figures, the iPhone 4S remains one of 2011’s biggest consumer letdowns.

The phone that’s on pace to become the best-selling and most-profitable handset in industry history is a “flop”. OK.

User Interface of the Week: PSPad 

Text editor for Windows. Needs more buttons.

Amazon Kindle Fire vs. iPad 2 

Marco Arment updates the comparison chart.

Mozilla and Google Sign New Agreement for Default Search in Firefox 

Mozilla:

The specific terms of this commercial agreement are subject to traditional confidentiality requirements, and we’re not at liberty to disclose them.

Open beats closed, every time. Except when discussing money.

Apps for Water 

Great apps, great cause.

iMessage and Stolen/Lost iPhones 

Jacqui Cheng:

Some unlucky iPhone owners are beginning to discover that, despite their best efforts to remove all information from their stolen phones, thieves and unsuspecting buyers are still able to send and receive iMessages as the original owner — even after the device is registered under a new account. Almost nothing seems to work — remote wiping, changing Apple ID passwords, or even moving the old phone number to a new phone — and users are becoming more than frustrated that thieves are so easily able to pose as them.

The View From Nowhere 

Jay Rosen:

In pro journalism, American style, the View from Nowhere is a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position “impartial.” Second, it’s a means of defense against a style of criticism that is fully anticipated: charges of bias originating in partisan politics and the two-party system. Third: it’s an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view. American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance.

This.

Engadget Reviews the Galaxy Nexus 

Tim Stevens:

And then there’s the battery life. It’s well known that LTE can put a real hurting on phone longevity and that appears to be the case here as well, our Nexus struggling to hold on to a charge in day-to-day use with all antennas firing. We’ve as of yet had very limited time with the thing, but in our 24 hours of intensive testing we had to reach for the charger multiple times. Using Google Navigation with LTE enabled? The battery drained so fast our in-car charger couldn’t keep up, leaving us unsure of which exit to take off the 101.

I wonder why there’s no LTE iPhone yet?

Search Results You Can Trust 

Search Amazon for “iPad” and the top result is this “Compare iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire” promotional page.

John Martellaro: Apple Is Now Forced to Build a 7-Inch Tablet 

Noted for future claim chowder.

(Apple’s business has never been about capturing the entirety — or even a unit-share majority — of any market. They just make cool things and sell them for a profit. That’s it.)

Getting Fed Up With Google 

Another difference between Apple and Google: as Apple grows more successful, they make their users happier, with better-designed products; as Google grows more successful, they annoy their users with ever more intrusive advertising.

Kindle Fire and the Open Web 

Any request for Google’s Android Market — even in the web browser — is redirected to the Amazon Appstore on the Kindle Fire. More proof that Android is open and Apple is too controlling.

Could RIM’s Survival Mean Abandoning the BlackBerry? 

Alastair Sharp and Pav Jordan, reporting for Reuters:

Just before those numbers were released, activist shareholder Jaguar Financial called on the company to sell its handset business and monetize its patent portfolio while retaining the high-margin services business. “Jaguar believes that the road map to value restoration lies in a sale of RIM whether as a whole or in separate parts,” it said.

This is a terrible idea. RIM’s “high-margin services business” is entirely predicated on its handset business. But this is what happens when profits decline — you’re forced to entertain even worse advice from jackass investors. Cf. calls for Apple to abandon its hardware business and license Mac OS for PCs, or, for Apple to abandon Mac OS and make Windows PCs, circa 1995–96.

Free Galaxy Nexus Phones for Google Employees 

What a tasteful design.

‘Next Year’ 

Chris Davis, Slashgear:

“In the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality” Schmidt told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, while also confirming that Google plans to leverage its voice recognition technology to better challenge Apple’s Siri.

In the PC era, “next year” was going to be the year of desktop Linux. In the post-PC era, “next year” is the year that Android isn’t crappy.

Circling the Toilet 

Ian Austen, reporting for the NYT:

Research in Motion said on Thursday that a new line of BlackBerry smartphones that it hoped would turn around its flagging fortunes will not come to market until late next year.

It was the latest, and perhaps most significant, setback in a string of product delays and missteps from the company.

In the meantime, profits are down 70 percent. I love to say “I told you so”, so: I told you so.

Remember Google’s Android Update Alliance? 

“Over the next few weeks, we’ll figure it out.”

Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How the Internet Works 

Joshua Kopstein:

When the security issue was brought up, Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina seemed particularly comfortable about his own lack of understanding. Grinningly admitting “I’m not a nerd” before the committee, he nevertheless went on to dismiss without facts or justification the very evidence he didn’t understand and then downplay the need for a panel of experts. Rep. Maxine Waters of California followed up by saying that any discussion of security concerns is “wasting time” and that the bill should move forward without question, busted internets be damned.

Bipartisan willful ignorance.

There Is a Flip Side 

Dave Winer, on trying to convince Joe Hewitt to switch to Android:

Anyway, he thinks the iPhone is great. He doesn’t want to use Android. But I want him to use it, for the same reason I use it. Which is the title of this piece.

Right now it’s the only open source mobile OS that has a chance against iOS. If there is no alternative to iOS then Apple will have exclusive control over what makes it to market. That is a future none of us should want to live in.

The better iOS is relative to Android, the more you have to worry about.

I enjoyed this piece a lot. To me, this is an honest and reasonable perspective.

But, to quote Neil McCauley, there is a flip side to that coin. Winer’s perspective is that Apple is the bigger threat. A different perspective would be that Google is the bigger threat, and that using Apple products is a way to better protect our privacy and personal information.

Fear of Apple is about losing control over the software on our computers. Fear of Google is about losing control over our privacy.

Me, I use an iPhone simply because I think it’s the best. But it fits with which company I’m more worried about, too.

Dell Quits Netbooks 

Joanna Stern:

Dell’s Marketing Director Alison Gardner was very clear about the strategy: “Thin and powerful is where it is at for us.”

Remember when Apple “needed” to start making netbooks? Good times.

Flash Player 11.1 Arrives for Android Ice Cream Sandwich 

Daniel Ionescu, reporting for PCWorld:

The latest Android Flash player has a few known issues, however. StageVideo using On2 and Sorenson does not work on ICS devices, and Seeking while video is paused will not update the frame on ICS device. Also, the OS does not prioritize incoming calls, so audio remains playing before and after call is received, and the enter key does not work on the multi-line text input field.

Happy birthday, Jesus. Hope you like crap.

Danny Sullivan Reviews the Galaxy Nexus 

My favorite Galaxy Nexus review to date.

Appcuity 

My thanks to ProVUE for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Appcuity. Appcuity is an alternative front-end to the Mac App Store. It is not about being prettier than the regular Mac App Store app, because it’s not. It’s about data — both current and historical — and giving you ways to use that data to sort and filter all of it in intelligent and useful ways. For example, Appcuity can tell you precisely how many apps in the Mac App Store are on sale today (this week, 1,948 out of 8,582 total apps were on sale). Good luck finding that information any other way than via Appcuity.

The Mac App Store app is for browsing, and it’s great for that. Appcuity is a serious tool for intelligent searching, filtering, wish lists, and side-by-side app comparisons. Don’t take my word for it — read Matt Neuburg’s glowing reviews of Appcuity for TidBITS, here and here.

Appcuity is free to try, and you can save 25 percent on Appcuity Pro this week with coupon code “FIREBALL11”.

Zaky on Apple’s Next Quarter: The Biggest Earnings Blowout in History 

Andy Zaky:

The largest company in America is about to grow its earnings by a whopping 84% this quarter, and Wall Street is asleep at the wheel.

Christopher Hitchens, R.I.P. 

Christopher Buckley:

Yes, everything he said was brilliant. It was a feast of reason and a flow of soul, and, if the author of “God Is Not Great” did not himself believe in the concept of soul, he sure had one, and it was a great soul.

Via Roger Ebert, this quote from Hitch: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.”

Teen Texting 

Nielsen:

Messaging remains the centerpiece of mobile teen behavior. The number of messages exchanged monthly (SMS and MMS) hit 3,417 per teen in Q3 2011, averaging seven messages per waking hour.

How Does iMessage Know That the Recipient Is an iOS 5 Device? 

The end result is pretty slick.

On Being Reasonable 

Horace Dediu:

I believe that institutional financial advisors are conditioned (or coerced) into assuming that nothing unreasonable ever happens. That seems like a completely flawed foundation to stand on.

Made in Texas: Apple’s A5 iPhone Chip 

Great scoop by Poornima Gupta, reporting for Reuters:

The A5 processor — the brain in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 — is now made in a sprawling 1.6 million square feet factory in Austin owned by Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics, according to people familiar with the operation. […]

Nearly all of the output of the non-memory chip production from the factory — which is the size of about nine football fields — is dedicated to producing Apple chips, one of the people said.

Surprising (to me at least) and cool news.

Picky Prowlers Only Want iPhones 

Katy Tur, reporting for NBC New York:

Twice at 526 114th St., and once at 556 114th St., the suspects demanded the victims hand over their iPhones, police said.

The first victim complied, but the second only had a Droid, according to police. The thieves apparently didn’t want a Droid — so they took cash instead.

Reads like something out of The Onion.

Bonus joke: This gets under my skin because it is a pompous, privileged, insulting, and myopic viewpoint which reeks of class warfare — and it is indicative of a growing sentiment I see amongst people in the thief community.

A Dollar Too Much 

Iain Marlow, reporting for The Globe and Mail:

Research In Motion Ltd.’s top executives cut their salaries to $1 as they delivered yet more dismal news to investors, telling the world the product that was supposed to save the company will come out almost a year later than promised.

The news that a new line of BlackBerrys with an upgraded operating system won’t be released until late 2012, combined with a weak outlook for the company’s fourth quarter, pounded RIM shares in after-hours trading. The stock fell more than 7 per cent to about $14 (U.S.).

Quote of the Day 

“Google products are machine-driven. They’re created by machines. And that is what makes us powerful. That’s what makes our products great.”

Yes, People Are Lining Up for the Galaxy Nexus 

Quite chivalrous of them to let all the women in first.

Merlin Mann Interviews Adam Lisagor 

Speaking of 30-something men recording intelligent discussion for your audio enjoyment, if you don’t like this interview of Adam Lisagor by Merlin Mann, you’re not hooked up right. (And man, what a great lineup of speakers they’ve got for Webstock this year.)

The Talk Show, Episode 71 

Topics on this week’s show include: yours truly’s appearance on On The Verge (including a brief interpolation on the verbal awkwardness of saying that one was on a show when the name of said show starts with the word “On”) the new Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal, objectivity in journalism and some introspection on just what it is I do here at DF, laggy interfaces in Mac OS X and Android, the new Twitter, a bit of James Bond news, and Louis C.K.’s indie content and success. I think this is a good episode of our show, I really like how this one turned out.

Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Harvest and MailChimp.

The Old-Fashioned 

Troy Patterson, writing for Slate, on the cocktail:

The old-fashioned is at once “the manliest cocktail order” and “something your grandmother drank,” and between those poles we discover countless simple delights, evolutionary wonders, and captivating abominations. Because of its core simplicity and its elasticity — because it is primordial booze — ideas about the old-fashioned exist in a realm where gastronomical notions shade into ideological tenets. It is a platform for a bar to make a statement, a surface on which every bartender leaves a thumbprint, and a solution that many a picky drinker dips his litmus paper in. You are a free man. Drink your drink as you please. But know that your interpretation of the recipe says something serious about your philosophy of fun.

Don’t miss his link to this gem of a letter to the editor in the NYT in 1936.

Font Swap in iBooks 

Glenn Fleishman, in a well-illustrated piece for Boing Boing:

The release of iBooks 1.5 offers an interesting swap out. My three least favorite fonts for reading on screen were removed: Baskerville, Cochin, and Verdana have been erased from the list. Only the dread Times New Roman remains alongside Georgia and Palatino. Added into the mix are four other faces: Athelas, Charter, Iowan, and Seravek.

MG Siegler’s Take on the Galaxy Nexus 

MG Siegler:

Unfortunately, the system still lacks much of the fine polish that iOS users enjoy. The majority of Android users will probably think such criticism is bullshit, but that has always been the case. I imagine it’s probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better when both machines get them from point A to point B. As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it — I’d have to experience it to understand it, I imagine. And most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences.

You either see it or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool, enjoy your Nexus. But I think the reason Apple Stores are so crowded, and getting so big, is that there are an awful lot of people who do see it.

Gitbox: Year One Status Report 

Oleg Andreev:

In June on WWDC10 my boss told me once more that “real artists ship” and I shipped Gitbox with version 0.9 for free. It looked clumsy and I really worried that nobody would like it.

But it was a success. A lot of people got interested by a concept of “one-button” Git client. Never before version control app, especially for Git, was expected to be “simple” or “minimalistic” yet useful. A lot of people dismissed it for a lack of features. But still many fell in love with it from day one and continued using it daily. For many it became the only way to work with Git repos without exploding their brains.

It’s a pretty clever app — deceptively simple, in a good way. Currently on sale for just $10 — regular price, $40. (Via Gus Mueller.)

Dan Frommer on His New Gig at ReadWriteWeb, and What It Means for SplatF 

Dan Frommer:

I will continue to write SplatF, now, then, and probably for the rest of my life, with the same mission as always: To write the site I want to read.

Good to hear.

Accounts of a Massacre in Iraq Found in Junkyard 

Michael S. Schmidt, reporting for the NYT:

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp. […]

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

Galaxy Nexus Launches Tomorrow on Verizon for $299 

Has Google ever released sales figures for the Nexus phones? Doesn’t seem to me like they’re particularly big sellers, even though year-after-year they’re widely reviewed as the best Android phones on the market. I spent a few minutes playing with Topolsky’s Galaxy Nexus in the On The Verge green room; some of the text editing improvements in Android 4.0 alone make it quite obviously the best Android phone in the world. But will people line up for this? Is there any Android phone that people will line up for? I point this out not to mock or make fun, but simply as an observation of how profoundly different the Android and iOS markets are. This is the Android equivalent of the iPhone 4S — the newest OS, the most features, the leading-est-edge hardware.

Also interesting to observe how Android phones have evolved in a decidedly-iPhone-like direction. The 2008 G1 had a hardware keyboard; a hardware up/down/left/right controller for moving the insertion point in text and navigating menus; dedicated hardware buttons for Menu, Home, Search, and Back; and SD card storage expansion. All of these things were held up by some critics as advantages against the iPhone. Today’s Galaxy Nexus has none of these things. (It still has a removable battery, though — does anyone want to take a bet that next year’s Nexus Whatever does not?) The biggest anti-iPhone difference in Android evolution is the ever-increasing size of the displays — the Galaxy Nexus’s measures 4.65 inches diagonally — and the corresponding increase in the overall size of the hardware.

But: the iPhone copied Android’s pull-from-the-top notification list. So it’s all even.

ReadWriteWeb Acquired by Say Media; Hires Dan Frommer as ‘Editor-at-Large’ 

Say Media is the new incarnation of Six Apart. Frommer says this is not the end of SplatF — his new gig at ReadWriteWeb is in addition to SplatF, not a replacement or acquisition. Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch reports the deal was for about $5 million.

I’ll tell you what sets off my spidey sense, though: the way Say Media wants you to spell the “say” in all caps.

Process Now Universal 

Speaking of native apps, remember last week’s DF sponsor, Process — a photo filtering/adjustment app for the iPad? As of yesterday, it’s now a universal app for the iPhone, too. It’s apps like Process that make today’s camera market so fascinating. The sensors and lenses of dedicated point-and-shoot cameras remain superior to those in smartphones, but, smartphones can run real photo editing apps right on the device itself. Use a “camera” and you still need a computer to tweak or share your photos. Use a smartphone and you can do it all right there.

Instagram is more fun for me than anything else in photography today. Process is a good way to tweak photos for Instagram — or any other way you might want to share directly from your phone — without the schtick of faux-retro toy camera effects. Here’s the neat living-in-the-future thing: when you save a set of adjustments as a new custom process, it gets synced across your devices via iCloud. Save a new process on your iPhone, and that process is available on your iPad. Just like that. $3 on the App Store.

Dave Winer on Apps and the Web 

Dave Winer:

I’m talking about the newspaper or magazine that, when you click on a link to go to one of their articles, puts up an interstitial telling you that you could read the article in their app instead. Initially, I installed one or two of these. The other day I installed a big comprehensive one from Google. Flipboard is the original one of these reading environments that is not the web. The NY Times has a slow buggy huge app for reading their news.

I think Winer’s piece yesterday was almost completely misunderstood. There are people taking extreme positions on this: those who believe native apps will replace the web, and on the other side, those who think we’ll eventually use nothing but browser-based web apps. Winer isn’t arguing that.

Some things work best on the web. Some things work best in native apps. And as Brent Simmons writes, they’re getting intermingled in interesting ways. I love native apps, but almost everything I read other than books, I read on the web. I make my living writing for the web. But a lot of what I read on the web I read in web views inside native apps like Tweetbot.

Maybe someday there will be a Daring Fireball app, but I still haven’t thought of a reason to make one that would be better than just reading DF on the web.

Samsung Exec Says Apple Made Galaxy Tab a ‘Household Name’ 

Asher Moses, interviewing Samsung’s Australian chief for The Sydney Morning Herald:

But when asked whether the court action — which Apple launched after claiming Samsung “slavishly copied” its iPad — was the best marketing Samsung could hope for, McGee was under no illusions about the boost Apple’s case, and the subsequent media coverage, provided.

“At the end of the day the media awareness certainly made the Galaxy Tab 10.1 a household name compared to probably what it would’ve been based on the investment that we would’ve put into it from a marketing perspective,” he said.

I think he’s right. The overwhelming majority of the media coverage I’ve seen for the Galaxy Tab is related to Apple’s various lawsuits. I’ve still never seen a single person using one in the wild, so I don’t think it’s helping Samsung sell tablets, but I don’t think there can be any argument that it’s raised overall awareness that the Galaxy Tabs even exist.

John Lasseter on Steve Jobs 

John Lasseter, in Time magazine:

A few months later, Apple bought NeXT, and Steve sat me down at Pixar and asked my permission to go back to Apple. He didn’t want to do it without our blessing. He said he wanted to go back because the world would be a better place with Apple in it. That was incredibly touching to me, and it showed that Steve cared about people. He knew that his products and technology could improve people’s lives.

Today in Dishonest Fox News Charts 

I’m sure this was an honest mistake.

Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice 

Worth a re-link: Barry Schwartz at TED on the paradox of choice.

ReadWriteWeb: ‘6 Mobile Malware Trends for 2012’ 

Would this not be more accurate if headlined “6 Android Malware Trends for 2012”? These damn malware facts have an anti-Android bias.

Daniel Craig on ‘Quantum of Solace’ 

Daniel Craig, in an interview with Time Out London:

Q: It seems that the script is sometimes an after-thought on huge productions.

A: ‘Yes and you swear that you’ll never get involved with shit like that, and it happens. On “Quantum”, we were fucked. We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes — and a writer I am not.’

That explains a lot.

Too Many Choices 

Interesting interview with Sheena Iyengar:

About 60% of the people stopped when we had 24 jams on display, and then at the times when we had 6 different flavors of jam out on display only 40% of the people actually stopped, so more people were clearly attracted to the larger varieties of options, but then when it came down to buying, so the second thing we looked at is in what case were people more likely to buy a jar of jam.

What we found was that of the people who stopped when there were 24 different flavors of jam out on display only 3% of them actually bought a jar of jam, whereas of the people who stopped when there were 6 different flavors of jam 30% of them actually bought a jar of jam. So, if you do the math, people were actually 6 times more likely to buy a jar of jam if they had encountered 6 than if they encountered 24, so what we learned from this study was that while people were more attracted to having more options, that’s what sort of got them in the door or got them to think about jam, when it came to choosing time they were actually less likely to make a choice if they had more to choose from than if they had fewer to choose from.

Think about this in the context of, say, Apple Stores.

(Would it have killed them to add a few paragraph breaks to the transcript, though?)

Louis C.K. Answering Questions on Reddit 

Fascinating, wide-ranging group interview with Louis C.K. Here’s a bit regarding piracy and bootlegging:

To steal from someone and not feel bad, you either have to be a sociopath or view the act differently. One way is to remove “Someone” from the equation. You’re not stealing from a person. Big companies do a lot to help people view them as less than human. I heard a speech by Noam Chomsky who said that corporations are like super humans. They cannot be hurt like a human can and they never die. They are not susceptible to scrutiny or accountability. This makes them more profitable. If companies want to enjoy these benefits to some degree they have to live with what else comes with being not human. You miss out on compassion, forgiveness, camaraderie, empathy, trust all kinds of shit.

Sales Figures From Louis C.K. 

Louis C.K.:

The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.

Sounds like a success. I watched it the other night and it was great. I hope it continues to sell like hotcakes.

Jesse Hollington on Deleting Photos From iCloud Photo Stream 

Jesse Hollington:

Photo Stream as it existed in iOS 5.0 and related iCloud components was a very simple “push” technology that required absolutely no tracking or syncing; new photos simply got pushed to every device after which iOS, iCloud and iPhoto/Aperture could basically forget about them.

The ability to actually delete photos from a Photo Stream requires synchronization of existing photo content…. Suddenly Apple’s iCloud servers and related client components have to keep track of every photo in the Photo Stream individually so that they can push delete operations across all devices. Of course it’s not rocket science, but it does add an extra layer of complexity to the process.

I’m not saying it’s easy. (I try never to make any assumptions about how hard or easy it would be to add any given feature.) What I’m saying is, no matter how hard it was to allow deletion of individual pictures from Photo Stream, it shouldn’t have been released until the delete feature was ready.

On the other hand, that’s the advantage of software over hardware. You can omit an essential feature and then hustle to get it into your first major update. Good luck adding volume buttons to your Kindle Fire.

A Man, a Ball, a Hoop, a Bench (and an Alleged Thread) 

Wonderful profile of Teller (of Penn and Teller fame), and his The Red Ball trick, by Richard Abowitz for Las Vegas Weekly, back in 2008:

Penn amended Teller’s suggested explanation, offering “Now, here’s a trick that’s done with a piece of thread” in its place. Suddenly Penn was happy and excited. There was an idea. “That’s all,” Teller remembers Penn saying, “Just give them that much. That gives them so much and puts them on our side. Nobody else in the world would do that.”

Craftmanship, respect for the audience, and the pursuit of perfection. Years of practice before putting the trick in the act. Then, they introduce the trick by telling you how it’s done. I’ve seen their show twice, including this trick both times. It’s amazing.

Steve Jobs in 1980 

Same vision. Same goals. What he was talking about then applies almost completely to what Apple is doing today. (Via Michael B. Johnson.)

Things Ross Rader Doesn’t Like About Twitter 4 for iOS 

Ross Rader:

I believe that much of the confusion swirls around their efforts to simplify features that were poorly conceived to begin with. Moving stuff around on these various screens and giving them different names isn’t going to solve any real problems for Twitter or its users.

Couldn’t agree more.

Microsoft Releases Kinectimals for iOS 

Mike Fahey:

Released last month for the Windows Phone 7, Kinectimals for iOS devices retains all the functionality of that version, right down to the ability to transfer your pets back and forth between your Xbox 360 and your iPhone or iPad.

They also released a Skydrive client app for iOS. I think this is smart.

Trolls 

Paul Graham, back in 2008:

The third cause of trolling is incompetence. If you disagree with something, it’s easier to say “you suck” than to figure out and explain exactly what you disagree with. You’re also safe that way from refutation. In this respect trolling is a lot like graffiti. Graffiti happens at the intersection of ambition and incompetence: people want to make their mark on the world, but have no other way to do it than literally making a mark on the world.

Nielsen: ‘U.S. Kids Looking Forward to “iHoliday” 2011’ 

Nielsen:

Consistent with U.S. kids’ 2010 wish lists, the Apple iPad is the most desired consumer electronic among kids ages 6-12 for holiday 2011. In fact, the iPad increases its stronghold, with nearly half (44%) of kids expressing interest in the product, up from 31 percent in 2010. Two other popular Apple devices — iPod Touch (30%) and iPhone (27%) — round out kids’ top three, with computers and other tablet brands each appealing to a quarter of younger consumers.

Seems to me Apple is doing pretty well in the youth market.

How to Properly Use Apple’s Guidance to Accurately Forecast Earnings 

Andy Zaky explains in painstaking detail how to do what almost no professional Wall Street analysts actually do: accurately predict Apple’s finances. This is what you call “showing your work”. Bottom line:

Over the past several years, and especially after undergoing a major accounting change in fiscal Q1 2010, Apple has consistently reported a quarterly revenue number that was precisely 12-18% above its revenue guidance. Regardless of how rosy or conservative the Wall Street consensus happens to be, regardless of what Business Insider has to say about the Android destroying iPhone sales, regardless of all of the channel checks, Gartner & IDC research data, Comscore, NPD data, and the supply chain.

Regardless of rumors of Apple cutting manufacturing orders by 90% as falsely reported every quarter by the Chinese equivalent of the National Enquirer, Digitimes. Regardless of all of these reports that Apple has cut iPhone production by 75%, regardless of reports, and rumors of reports of Apple’s untimely death. Regardless of everything you hear from analysts, fund managers CNBC or anyone else for that matter. The fact remains that Apple consistently beats its own revenue guidance by the same exact 12-18% every single quarter. The rest is all noise intended to do nothing else but to distract you.

Tremendously detailed article. Zaky continues to impress.

Third-Party iPhone Twitter Clients Benefitting From Twitter’s New App 

Dan Frommer:

Thanks to a price cut to $0.99 and the new Twitter launch on Thursday, Tweetbot has been shooting up the iPhone App Store charts, according to App Annie. It’s currently the no. 34 paid iPhone app, down from no. 16 on Saturday.

Tweetbot has been my iPhone Twitter client of choice for a few months now, but there are others worth looking at if you’re looking for something better than the new official client from Twitter. Off the top of my head: Echofon, Tweetlogix, Osfoora, Twitterrific, and Twittelator Neue are all worthy of attention. Each of those apps strikes me as better-designed than the new Twitter app, and each one of them is better designed than any single Twitter client I’ve ever tried for Android or Windows Phone. The iPhone Twitter client market is an embarrassment of riches.

Nokia, iPhone, Android and Wishful Thinking 

Om Malik:

I co-incidentally happen to be in Helsinki, a few miles away from Nokia’s global headquarters in Espoo, Finland. Walking around the downtown (where I am staying), I have seen many more iPhones than Nokia phones. And most of the startup people I met have some variation of the iPhone. One of them who is still in college told me that Nokia gave him one of their new phones, and he decided to use it as a way to support his nation’s largest employer. A month later, he switched back to the iPhone. Ouch! When you can’t give away your phones to your own “youth,” it is time to stop hating on other platforms and look for ways to get people to use your product.

Damn these facts and their pro-Apple bias.

Amazon’s Jungle Logic 

Richard Russo:

Like just about everybody I’ve talked to about it, I first attributed Amazon’s price-comparison app to arrogance and malevolence, but there’s also something bizarrely clumsy and wrong-footed about it. Critics may appear weak today, but they may not be tomorrow, and if the wind shifts, Amazon’s ham-fisted strategy has the potential to morph into a genuine Occupy Amazon movement.

App Developers Betting on iOS Over Android 

Data from Flurry Analytics:

Anecdotally, developers consistently tell us that they make more money on iOS, about three to four times as much. To be sure, we pulled a sample of in-app purchase data from a set of top apps with versions on both iOS and Android, comprising several million daily active users (DAUs). Running the numbers, we find that, on average, for every $1.00 generated on iOS, the same app will generate $0.24 on Android.

The facts have a pro-Apple bias.

Elevation Dock 

Kickstarter campaign by Casey Hopkins for an exquisitely well-crafted, beautiful, useful iPhone dock. I’m in.

Jonathan Chait on Paul Krugman 

Jonathan Chait:

The most remarkable attribute Krugman has brought to the Times is rudeness. The social niceties that accompany his exalted position are utterly lost on him. He does not seek out the company of famous politicians and cannot be courted with flattery or access. He understands that you can’t arrive at truth without explaining why mistaken beliefs are wrong.

Nokia Exec: ‘Youth Are Pretty Much Fed Up With iPhones’ 

Stuart Miles:

In an exclusive interview with Pocket-lint, Niels Munksgaard, director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales at Nokia Entertainment Global explained all:

“What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone,” he said. “Also, many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security. So we do increasing see that the youth that wants to be on the cutting edge and try something new are turning to the Windows phone platform.”

I’m reminded of HTC Americas president Martin Fichter, who claimed in September that his daughter’s friends at Reed College carry HTC and Samsung devices, and “none of them has an iPhone” because they’re not cool anymore.

I’m also reminded of this quip from Yankee legend Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Don’t Be a Free User 

Maciej Ceglowski on the pattern of free-of-charge web services getting popular and then cashing out and shutting down:

What if a little site you love doesn’t have a business model? Yell at the developers! Explain that you are tired of good projects folding and are willing to pay cash American dollar to prevent that from happening. It doesn’t take prohibitive per-user revenue to put a project in the black. It just requires a number greater than zero.

Smallworks Brickcase 

Speaking of indie hardware products designed and made in the U.S.A., here’s another one I’ve linked to before but which is worthy of a re-link as we reach the homestretch of the holiday shopping season. The Brickcase is a Lego-compatible case for the iPhone 4/4S, and, now, for the iPod Touch too. A very fun idea, and really well-made.

Studio Neat 

I’ve linked to the Glif a few times before — it’s my favorite iPhone 4 propper-upper/tripod thingamajig. The guys behind it have a few new products now: a deluxe “Glif+” package and the Cosmonaut, a wide-grip stylus for the iPad and other touchscreens. Great stocking stuffers, designed and manufactured right here in the U.S.A.

360° Gyroscope-Enabled Panoramic Photo of Grand Central Apple Store 

Visit Apple’s web page for the new Grand Central Terminal store using an iOS device, tap “View More Photos”, and the last photo in the gallery is a stunning panoramic photo that you navigate using the gyroscope of the device. Amazing. (Via The Next Web.)

Mac App Store Download Numbers 

Apple yesterday announced that the Mac App Store has crossed the 100 million download mark. Jim Dalrymple reports:

Apple confirmed for me today that those 100 million downloads do not include downloads for its newest operating system OS X Lion. The figure also doesn’t include updates to apps delivered to users from the Mac App Store.

Finally, the figure doesn’t include apps that users downloaded to other authorized Macs. Can you imagine what that figure would be if all of those numbers were included?

iOS 5.1 Beta 2 Enables Photo Stream Photo Deletion 

Real artists ship, yada yada yada, but I think the way that Photo Stream shipped without the ability to delete photos from it is one of the oddest omissions in recent Apple history. Accidentally post something to Photo Stream that you don’t want there, and the only solution in iOS 5.0 is to delete your entire Photo Stream.

On the Tab Labels in the New Twitter 

Brent Simmons:

Connect and Discover are the ones I like least, since they sound as if they weren’t decided upon by designers but by a murder of marketing executives perched around a big table. Both are too-abstract Latin words with the blood sucked out of them.

Spelling Question 

Brooke Crothers:

Take the blog Daring Fireball. It offers some solid analysis. But in the end it’s a fanboi site, assailing the misinformed or pointing out how wrong or disliked the Android competition is. That kind of attitude gets in the way of informed insight.

I have a serious question. Why spell it fanboi? Is that like fanboy but also gay?

Apple Preps iOS Accessory Makers for Bluetooth 4.0 

Nilay Patel:

We’re told that Apple wants to see a new wave of app-based accessories using the new Bluetooth Low Energy profile in Bluetooth 4.0, with a particular focus on next-generation health and fitness gadgets like the FitBit Ultra and Jawbone Up. We’re also told Apple is making it easier to for MFI accessories to connect to Wi-Fi networks by automatically pulling the appropriate configuration information from your iOS device over Bluetooth or the docking cable — all you have to do is approve the request and your accessory will hop online without any extra effort. That’ll make configuring AirPlay docks and other Wi-Fi-based iOS accessories much, much simpler in the future — right now they all involve a fair bit of effort.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager heavily on this Bluetooth accessory stuff being used heavily for Apple TV, too.

FBI Says Carrier IQ May Be Used in ‘Law Enforcement Proceedings’ 

Andy Greenberg:

After a video surfaced that seemed to show the software logging keystrokes and monitoring data traffic on the more than 140 million phones on which it’s installed by default, Morisy had asked the Bureau for any “manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ.”

The FBI responded that the material couldn’t be provided, and cited an exemption to the Freedom of Information law for situations in which handing over documents “could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings.”

Ugh. Not sure how to see this as anything other than confirmation of our worst fears about this Carrier IQ stuff.

On The Verge, Episode 2 

I was a guest on the second episode of On The Verge, the talk show hosted by Josh Topolsky. I had a good time, and I think it was a damn good show. The tour of the new Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal is the best coverage of the store I’ve seen, and Topolsky’s remote piece on campus at Microsoft was hilarious.

Not a Good Sign When a Product Is Compared to the Edsel 

David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT on customer reaction to the Kindle Fire:

The Kindle Fire, Amazon’s heavily promoted tablet, is less than a blazing success with many of its early users. The most disgruntled are packing the device up and firing it back to the retailer. […]

“In less than two weeks, we’re rolling out an over-the-air update to Kindle Fire,” said Drew Herdener, a company spokesman.

There will be improvements in performance and multitouch navigation, and customers will have the option of editing the list of items that show what they have recently been doing. No more will wives wonder why their husbands were looking at a dating site when they said they were playing Angry Birds.

The whole article is pretty damning. Does anyone love the Kindle Fire? I got to play with one over the weekend and was not impressed. The sleep/wake button is horrendously placed, everything felt slow and laggy, and the whole home screen concept seems poorly designed.

Google’s Android Revenue 

Google announced during their third quarter conference call that they’re generating $2.5 billion in mobile revenue. The Macalope, on this being reported as Android generating $2.5 billion in revenue for Google:

“Mobile” does not equal “Android.” Some Android fan sites also got this wrong, but “mobile” means ad revenue from all mobile operating systems. Further, because we know that about two thirds of Google’s mobile ad revenue comes from the iPhone we can figure that Android is generating at most $833 million in ad revenue a year for Mountain View. That is, of course, chump change compared to what Apple makes on the iPhone. Still, Android’s winning. Somehow.

How Do People Use Apple TV? 

Strategy Analytics issued a report on the “connected TV market”, predicting 4 million Apple TV sales for 2012. What caught my eye was this:

This report also found that Apple TV users are spending more money on movies and TV shows: 30 percent of Apple TV owners rented movies or TV shows, compared to 20 percent of users of other devices. “Apple is leading this nascent market, which it still considers a ‘hobby’.” says Jia Wu, Senior Analyst at the Connected Home Devices (CHD) service.

Only 30 percent? That seems crazy to me. 70 percent of Apple TV owners don’t rent any movies or TV shows? Update: I’m not disputing it. I’m just surprised. And lots of DF readers on Twitter are telling me they use Apple TV just for AirPlay and Netflix streaming.

Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theater 

Louis CK — for my money, the funniest comic working today — produced and is hosting his own concert video. “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap.” For $5, you download it and it’s yours. Five bucks! The future is disintermediated.

Andy Baio:

Remix culture is the new Prohibition, with massive media companies as the lone voices calling for temperance.

Kindle Fire and One-Click Shopping 

Mitch Lipka, reporting for Reuters:

St. Louis area software engineer Lance Durham says he decided to get a couple of Kindle Fires to give as presents to his children. He was loading some games before wrapping them and realized he couldn’t turn off the single-click ordering, which charges his credit card.

“There was no password or pin, nor any kind of confirmation — the purchase immediately went through,” he says.

So Durham called Amazon and says he was told the ordering from Amazon could not be disabled, and the company suggested he “deregister” the device after every purchase. That, he says, caused the downloaded apps to stop working.

The e-ink Kindles have always worked like this too, but they’re nowhere near as appealing to kids.

Process for iPad 

My thanks to Process for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Process is a great new photo processing app for the iPad. Process does two things I like. First, it comes with a slew of good preset filters you can apply to your photos. Second, it gives you precise controls over things like brightness, contrast, saturation, and more — all the aspects needed to adjust the filters just to your liking.

So you can apply widely varying changes with preset filters, and make fine-grained tweaks using precise controls. All non-destructively, with a graceful, minimal interface that puts the emphasis where it should be: on your photos. $2.99 on the App Store. Get it.

Apple: Motorola Patent Win Won’t Keep iPhones From German Holiday Shoppers 

Still, a big win for Motorola in German patent suit.

iPad 2 as a Serious Writing Machine 

James Kendrick:

What makes the iPad 2 and keyboard combo so effective for my writing is the “one app at a time” nature of the tablet. The running app takes up the entire screen, and thus my focus. There are no distractions presented while writing, just inputting words on the screen.

This is liberating for a writer, and I find I can write more, and better, on the tablet system than on a “real” computer. There are no menu options competing for my attention, no updates needing to be run, just an app on the screen.

See also: Harry McCracken’s similar piece from a week or so ago.

I’m starting to feel like an old fogey, using a Mac for all my writing.

HP to Contribute WebOS to Open Source 

Better than just shooting it out back, but what’s the practical upside of this? What devices will it run on? WebOS contains some brilliant ideas and great design, but let’s face it: it still has catching up to do. Who’s going to be motivated to do that hard work now?

I hope I’m wrong, but I think this is just the difference between putting your dog down and letting it free on a distant mountain road.

The New, New Twitter: 10 Big Takeaways 

Dan Frommer:

Twitter is trying to de-emphasize private messaging by moving it a layer deeper in the user interface. I’m guessing there are a bunch of reasons for this, not limited to: Simplicity, perhaps relatively low usage by most users, potentially confusing rules around DMing, and that more public content is probably better for Twitter’s product and advertising goals. Some long-time and hardcore Twitter users are probably going to be upset about this, but one of Twitter’s strengths has always been its willingness to design for its mainstream users at the expense of its geek users.

Sounds about right. (Not that I’m happy about it personally, but that I agree with his analysis of why Twitter is de-emphasizing private messaging.)

Nick Bilton on the New Twitter UI 

Nick Bilton:

You can look at the changes on Twitter similarly to the advent of a graphical user interface that made its debut in early-1980s computers. The design was called WIMP and stood for “windows, icons, menus and pointers.” Before WIMP, the only way to use a computer was by writing code, something most people couldn’t even comprehend.

After this major change in computing, programmers could still interact with the computer by writing code, but mere mortal humans could now interact with the computer through a graphical interface that wasn’t as intimidating. Twitter’s new design does the same thing for users who are afraid of the @ and # symbols. They still exist for people who want access to them, people who don’t understand these tools can completely ignore them.

Simplification may well be the publicly-stated goal of today’s new Twitter UI. But I don’t buy a word of Bilton’s analysis. The new Twitter UI doesn’t hide @username mentions or #hashtags. They’re all still there. Two of the big icons on the four tabs at the bottom of the screen are “@” and “#”. I totally agree that the way many people — most people? — use Twitter comes across as gibberish. The way people whom I follow use it, though, is what’s actually simple: just write short ideas concisely and clearly.

Maybe today’s new Twitter UI is better for new Twitter users. But even if that’s true, it’s not because it hides @ and # symbols the way that the Mac did away with the code-driven command line. And frankly, I don’t buy that’s simpler at all. In the old Twitter, you saw only what you asked to be shown (by following people). Now, they’re showing you all sorts of things you never asked for and can’t control.

Pre-Lit 

Episode 70 of America’s favorite numismatics podcast, The Talk Show. Topics include Carrier IQ, getting rid of the U.S. penny, Starbucks, Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store, The Verge, Johnny Carson and David Letterman, the Apple TV rumors, and more.

Brought to you by the fine folks at Squarespace and Smile Software.

Nintendo’s Miyamoto Stepping Down as Game Design Chief to Work on Smaller Games 

Chris Kohler, Wired:

“Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,’” Shigeru Miyamoto said through his interpreter. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”

“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto said. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”

Is there any other artist who is more universally agreed-upon to be the best who ever worked in their field? We could argue all day about the best-ever filmmaker, novelist, painter, or musical act. I don’t think you can argue with Miyamoto being the best-ever video game designer.

What Eric Schmidt Actually Said About Developing for Android First 

Speaking of Eric Schmidt, it ends up CNet’s Stephen Shankland misquoted him yesterday. Schmidt did not say:

Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform, and maybe you’ll even deliver it first.

His actual words were:

Whether you like ICS or not, and again I like it a great deal, you will want to develop for that platform, and perhaps even first.

I’m disappointed that Shankland got the quote slightly wrong, but, I think what Schmidt actually said fits even better with my analysis of what he meant — that sheer unit sale numbers alone will make developers want to support Android first. Numbers alone don’t explain iOS’s developer support. As Anil Dash pointed out last night, Symbian remains the world’s most-used smartphone OS. Unit numbers haven’t helped them.

‘It’s a Key-Logger’ 

Reuters, reporting on Eric Schmidt’s comments on Carrier IQ:

Schmidt said: “Android is an open platform, so it’s possible for people to build software that’s actually not very good for you, and this appears to be one.”

“It’s a key-logger, and it actually does keep your keystrokes, and we certainly don’t work with them and we certainly don’t support it,” he told an Internet freedom conference in the Dutch city of The Hague.

I think “It’s a key-logger” is at best a gross over-simplification of what Carrier IQ is, but that sure is a hell of a thing for the chairman of Google to say about it.

Google Currents 

New from Google: their long-rumored Flipboard ______. Feel free to fill in the blank with your choice of competitor or rip-off.

Update: It’s US-only, at least for now. I guess that’s what happens when you work with big corporate media “partners”, but it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The future of media is not about geographical restrictions.

Carrier IQ Interview 

Speaking of good work from The Verge, Sean Hollister and Dieter Bohn conducted a lengthy interview with Carrier IQ vice president Andrew Coward.

My takeaway is that they’re taking a sort of “Guns don’t kill people; people with guns kill people” defense — that Carrier IQ doesn’t log or transmit keystrokes, messages, and visited URLs; carriers and phone makers misusing Carrier IQ tools do those things.

Republican-Backed Bill Would Allow Telemarketers to Call Cell Phones 

Ugh:

Although telemarketers have to have “express consent” before they can call your cell phone, this bill would mean that if you ever give your phone number when buying anything, you will have given businesses the ability to call you endlessly — and use up minutes you paid for.

Android: A Visual History 

Almost unbelievably comprehensive look at the history of the Android platform, by Chris Ziegler at The Verge. Not only is it good work, but it’s presented in a perfectly readable single-page view.

The Verge is simply one of the best publications in the world. Period. Nobody is doing stuff like this better than they are.

Piezo 

New from Rogue Amoeba: Piezo, a gorgeous, super-simple $10 audio recording app from Rogue Amoeba. Available from their website, and, in a first for them, from the Mac App Store.

RIM Changes Name of New Operating System 

Ian Austen, reporting for the NYT:

Less than two months after Research In Motion announced that its new operating system to revive the BlackBerry brand would be called BBX, the company has changed its mind. Now, it will be called BlackBerry 10.

The late change followed the granting of a restraining order on Tuesday by a federal court in New Mexico to a small Albuquerque-based software maker, Basis International, that has long used the name BBx.

Has anything at all — anything — gone right for RIM in the last two years?

It’s the Smiley At the End That Makes It Work 

Reuters:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev caused shock and jeers on Wednesday after an obscene insult directed at political opponents appeared on his official Twitter feed. […] The offensive post appeared to have been retweeted on the MedvedevRussia feed at 33 minutes past midnight, according to cached copies of the feed and a notification of the post received by a Reuters reporter.

“It has become clear that if a person writes the expression ‘party of swindlers and thieves’ in their blog then they are a stupid sheep getting fucked in the mouth :)” the post read.

Don’t Get Too Specific, There 

Reuters, “Verizon Wireless Blames Technical Issue for Outage”:

Verizon Wireless blamed technical problems for an outage on its recently launched high-speed, 4G network, which prevented some U.S. customers from accessing the Internet for about 24 hours.

What else could it have been? A prank? A magic spell?

Eric Schmidt: Google TV on ‘Majority’ of New TVs by Summer 2012 

Jeff Blagdon, writing for The Verge:

Eric Schmidt thinks his company is doing great — much better than we had even realized. Onstage at LeWeb in Paris this afternoon, Google’s Executive Chairman told the audience that, “By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded.” The claim would seem to run counter to mixed reviews, disappointing sales numbers to date, and the growth of competing connected TV platforms. Perhaps Schmidt knows something we don’t?

Maybe he’s high? Are there any TVs for sale today with Google TV embedded?

Update: Sony has them, with that great remote control.

‘Whether You Like Android or Not’ 

Marco Arment, on Eric Schmidt’s “Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform” comment:

Is that a prediction or a threat?

If it’s a threat, I don’t think he meant it as a threat from Google, but rather a threat from Schmidt’s assumed laws of economics: that to avoid Android will be to assure irrelevance.

Is he implying that Android is widely disliked, and it doesn’t matter to him?

I can’t see any way to read his remarks other than as an acknowledgement that Android is widely disliked by developers, and that he doesn’t mind this because he doesn’t think it matters. Numbers are all that matter. If Android is shipping on the most handsets then Android is winning, period.

Why does Google let Eric Schmidt speak publicly? Has it ever turned out well?

I think he was just trying to be honest, and that he honestly believes that numbers alone will win the day for Android. It’s easy to refute this, though. Developers aren’t focusing on iOS first only at the expense of Android. Many developers are focusing on iOS first at the expense of all other platforms — including two platforms which have far greater numbers than iOS or Android: Windows and the web. Of course that’s not true for all developers, but it’s true for many of the hottest ones. The big news today was Flipboard expanding its platform support — from the iPad to the iPhone. We used to think of social networks as websites, but that’s just because all the early ones were web-first. Now, social networks are launching iPhone-first: Instagram, Path, and Stamped, for example.

Windows didn’t win developer support two decades ago because it had the numbers. It got the numbers because it had the developer support. I think Schmidt has the cause and effect backwards.

Ice Cream Sandwich: From Source Code Release to Software Upgrade 

Sony Ericsson company weblog post explaining the exact same thing as the aforelinked one from Motorola: why it will be months from now, at the earliest, before any of their phones get Android 4.0.

Coincidental timing?

Motorola Update on Ice Cream Sandwich 

Motorola company weblog post explaining why it will be months from now, at the earliest, before any of their phones get an upgrade to Android 4.0.

LG Nitro HD 

From David Pierce’s review of the LG Nitro HD Android phone:

There’s one big, huge, giant tradeoff to using an LTE handset, and that’s battery life — if you’re using LTE with any kind of regularity, the battery meter can barely go down fast enough. I’ve never gotten a full day’s battery life out of the Nitro HD, even when not using it regularly; the phone seems to lose its battery even while in standby, which means leaving it unplugged overnight is going to make for a rude awakening (or a missed one, if your phone dies) in the morning. Using Wi-Fi whenever possible largely solves this problem, but it also defeats the point of LTE. When you do use it regularly, beware: streaming a 20-minute episode of Arrested Development lopped 12 percent off my phone’s battery. There’s no way to toggle LTE on the device itself, but third-party developers have made apps that do so for other phones, so keep your fingers crossed that one comes for the Nitro too.

It sucks your battery continuously, even while idle, and you can’t turn it off. But it’s fast. I can’t think of a single paragraph that better encapsulates the difference in mindsets between Android phone makers and Apple.

As usual for The Verge, the video review is excellent. Gives you a good idea of what the hardware (chintzy to my eyes, other than the display) and software (god-awful) actually look like.

Eric Schmidt: ‘Android Is Ahead of the iPhone Now’ 

Speaking of people upset by developers favoring iOS over Android, here’s Eric Schmidt, speaking at the LeWeb conference in Paris:

“Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favored by the open approach Google is taking. There are so many manufacturers working to deliver Android phones globally,” Schmidt said. “Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform, and maybe you’ll even deliver it first.”

[Update: Schmidt was slightly misquoted above. What he actually said was, “Whether you like ICS or not, and again I like it a great deal, you will want to develop for that platform, and perhaps even first.”]

“Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform” sounds a little arrogant, but maybe that’s just me. But it got me thinking. Maybe “whether you like Android or not” is exactly wrong. I think maybe the biggest reason iOS has such strong developer support is that developers like iOS. They use and prefer iPhones and iPads personally, they like Cocoa, and they like the App Store.

The sheer number of Android phones being sold does matter, but I don’t think it’s enough. Developers were clamoring to write iPhone apps before Apple even announced that they were going to allow it.

One Android-toting audience member said he was frustrated to see iOS apps beating Android versions to market. But in part because of Ice Cream Sandwich, “my prediction is that six months from now you’ll say the opposite,” Schmidt said.

Noted!

Microsoft Releases Xbox Live App for iOS 

What I find interesting is that on the iPhone and iPad, it doesn’t feel wrong to see an app using the Metro UI. Whereas a Mac app that looked and felt as Windows-y as this app feels Metro-y would feel like nails on a chalkboard. I think it has something to do with every app being full-screen and immersive on iOS. Also: the fact that Metro is nice.

(Funny to read the comments on this post from Android users. E.g. “iOS before larger market share Android? LAME.”)

5 Minutes on The Verge: Paul Thurrott 

Interesting interview by Thomas Houston:

Q: Is Ballmer still the man for the job?

A: No, and Ballmer was never the right man for the job, which pains me to say because I really like the guy. Microsoft is an engineering driven company, and it needs a voice at the top who understands this world, and not a salesman. My vote is for Steven Sinofksy.

I agree. And I agree about this too:

To use Steve Jobs’ terms, Windows on ARM is a car and Windows on Intel is a truck. If Microsoft is successful in this transition, ARM becomes the volume version of Windows and the company splits the market for “mainstream computing devices” somewhat evenly with iOS and Android. If not, Microsoft is relegated to the truck market. Or what we might call the business PC market.

Silk (Slightly) Faster With Cloud Acceleration Turned Off? 

Interesting tablet browser benchmarks from Steve Souders. Ends up Silk is slightly faster with Amazon’s touted cloud acceleration turned off:

The test results show that some of the obvious optimizations, such as concatenating scripts, aren’t happening when acceleration is on. I expect we’ll see more optimizations rolled out during the Silk release cycle, just as we do for other browsers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Souders is right, that the cloud acceleration just isn’t doing enough yet.

Flipboard for iPhone 

Nicely done.

Windows Store Revenue Split 

Microsoft:

The revenue share base is 70%, but when an app achieves $25K USD in revenue — aggregated across all sales in every market — that app moves to 80% revenue share for the lifetime of that app.

So, once an app establishes a bit of success, we increase the revenue share to 80% to reflect and reward that success.

So they are undercutting Apple on the revenue split here.

We have full platform support for free apps, trials (both time-based and feature-based trials) and paid apps, including in-app purchase. […]

I sure hope Apple is working on a way to enable free trials. The way it works on Windows Phone is great.

That said, developers can also choose to manage their customer transactions directly, for example, with newspaper subscriptions, or to adopt a business model with offline fulfillment, such as for auctions. We don’t mandate a specific transaction engine and developers can use their own.

Another big difference from Apple. I wonder though, with the various antitrust agreements Microsoft has made around the world, whether they could even consider an Apple-style “if you use our store, all transactions must go through us” policy.

Microsoft Previews Windows Store 

Ina Fried, live-blogging from yesterday’s announcement event:

Microsoft has shipped 500 million Windows PCs since Windows 7 shipped, compared with 247 million Android devices, 152 million iOS devices and 30 million Macs. “The reach of Windows is just so much bigger,” he says, noting that all of those rivals combined don’t add up to the number of Windows machines sold. “That’s what you get to participate in by developing Metro-style Windows apps.”

Kind of stunning that iOS is even that close. Think of it this way: iOS is five times bigger than the Mac, and only slightly under a third the size of Windows.

Leblond said the goal was to return the most money to developers. Pricing can be from $1.49 to $999.99. “A thousand bucks is just too much for an app,” he says.

Curious that they start at $1.49 rather than 99 cents. (Apple doesn’t hold a patent on that, do they?)

On the Impracticality of a Cheeseburger 

Waldo Jaquith:

A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors — in all likelihood, a couple of dozen — and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh. The cheeseburger couldn’t have existed until nearly a century ago as, indeed, it did not.

Love the Sagan quote at the end.

BP Says Halliburton ‘Intentionally Destroyed Evidence’ After Gulf Oil Spill 

Shocking!

Aaron’s Twitter Viewer 

Not sure how I missed this before:

I made this little program so you can view and link to a whole conversation from Twitter in context.

Example. Pretty sure I prefer this to the aforelinked Exquisite Tweets in every way — especially in terms of information density in the display.

Exquisite Tweets 

I’ve been looking for something like this, so I could link from DF to an interesting multi-tweet discussion on Twitter:

Paste in the URL from a single tweet in a conversation to get a one-page thread you can share or save.

My biggest gripe is the display is so sparse. I’d much prefer a layout that packs more tweets into each screen. (Via Justin Blanton.)

Update: Aaron Swartz’s Twitter Viewer is better.

Latest Version 

Matt Gemmell, on the question of how far back iOS developers should go in terms of supporting older releases:

But when people ask how many OS versions they should support in their new app (which they do, often), they’re not looking for a common-sense and at least reasonably evidence-based answer like that. Instead, they’re looking for this answer:

It’s OK to support only the newest version of the OS.

That’s what they want to hear. Honestly, I think it might even be true, but I know that we all want it to be true. So to help you to convince yourself, here are the relevant arguments conveniently collected in one place.

It’ll be interesting to see how iOS 5’s long-awaited over-the-air software updates affect the new OS adoption rate.

Why Android’s UI Is Laggy Compared to iOS and Windows Phone 

Interesting technical look at the design of Android’s graphics and event processing by Andrew Munn, trying to explain why it feels so laggy compared to iOS and Windows Phone:

Android UI will never be completely smooth because of the design constraints I discussed at the beginning:

  • UI rendering occurs on the main thread of an app
  • UI rendering has normal priority

[…] This is the same reason why Windows Mobile 6.5, Blackberry OS, and Symbian have terrible touch screen performance. Like Android, they were not designed to prioritize UI rendering. Since the iPhone’s release, RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia have abandoned their mobile OS’s and started from scratch. Android is the only mobile OS left that existed pre-iPhone.

I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms before, but I think he’s right. Symbian and the old BlackBerry OS aren’t gone yet, but they’ve been deprecated by Nokia and RIM in favor of OSes designed post-iPhone.

Also funny to see in the comments a few Android fans denying that Android is laggy. “I don’t mind Android’s relative UI lagginess because of X, Y, and Z other things that Android does better than any other mobile OS” is a reasonable stance. “It is a myth that Android has issues with lagginess and UI responsiveness” is not.

Siri Wish List 

Good list of suggestions from Lex Friedman and Dan Moren. (Via Mat Honan, who suggests turn-by-turn navigation as another.)

Time Ducks Video Game Trailer 

Terrific homage to Kubrick’s groundbreaking trailer for Dr. Strangelove. (Via J.C. Hutchins.)

Android Phone Name Generator 

Even this thing couldn’t come up with a name as dumb as “Xyboard”.

CNet Is Bundling Open Source Software With Malware 

“Fyodor”, on a mailing list for developers of the open source Nmap app:

I’ve just discovered that C|Net’s Download.Com site has started wrapping their Nmap downloads (as well as other free software like VLC) in a trojan installer which does things like installing a sketchy “StartNow” toolbar, changing the user’s default search engine to Microsoft Bing, and changing their home page to Microsoft’s MSN.

The way it works is that C|Net’s download page (screenshot attached) offers what they claim to be Nmap’s Windows installer. They even provide the correct file size for our official installer. But users actually get a Cnet-created trojan installer. That program does the dirty work before downloading and executing Nmap’s real installer.

Some of the programs the installer puts on your system are identified as malware by McAfee and F-Secure. Isn’t this sort of crap exactly what Download.com was started for? To serve as a place from which Windows users could trust what they download? Shameful.

LG XNote Z330 

Reminds me of something I’ve seen before. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Why Siri Had to Start in Beta 

Benoit Maison:

I worked on speech recognition with IBM Research for nearly six years. We participated in DARPA-sponsored research projects, fields trials, and actual product development for various applications: dictation, call centers, automotive, even a classroom assistant for the hearing-impaired. The basic story was always the same: get us more data! (data being in this case transcribed speech recordings). There is even a saying in the speech community: “there is no data like more data”. Some researchers have argued that most of the recent improvements in speech recognition accuracy can be credited to having more and better data, not to better algorithms.

Astronomers Find Biggest Black Holes Yet 

Dennis Overbye, reporting for the NYT:

Astronomers are reporting that they have taken the measure of the biggest, baddest black holes yet found in the universe, abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our solar system into which billions of Suns have vanished like a guilty thought.

Maybe RIM can shoot those unsold PlayBooks into one of them.

Why Europe’s Trustbusters Targeted Apple’s E-Book ‘Cartel’ 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The language of the European Commission’s press release Tuesday announcing the start of a formal antitrust investigation of Apple and five major book publishers doesn’t address the obvious question: If Amazon is the 500-lbs. gorilla in the e-book trade, why has Apple’s much smaller iBookstore been targeted?

Bottom-line: the EU thinks the “agency model” constitutes illegal price-fixing.

Facebook Flaw Allows Access to Private Photos 

There’s still never been a better time to not have a Facebook account.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words 

Dan Frommer:

(Google’s specific statement, when I emailed: ”Verizon asked us not to include this functionality in the product.” Verizon didn’t immediately get back to me with an explanation, but it’s easy to speculate that this has something to do with Verizon’s own projects in mobile payments, namely Isis.)

In a twist of irony, or maybe just a coincidence, that new phone — the Galaxy Nexus — runs on the very Verizon network that Google fought to keep open. But now Google is the one helping deny consumers access to a cool new application.

This is neither irony nor coincidence. This is hypocrisy, pure and simple.

Kodak’s Long Fade to Black 

Michael Hiltzik, for the LA Times:

Once ranked among the bluest of blue chips, Kodak shares sell today at close to $1. Kodak’s chairman has been denying that the company is contemplating a bankruptcy filing with such vehemence that many believe Chapter 11 must lurk just around the corner.

The Rochester, N.Y., company said it had $862 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, but at the rate it’s losing money from operations (more than $70 million a month), that hoard would barely last a year. As for future revenue, it’s banking heavily on winning patent lawsuits against Apple and the maker of BlackBerry phones.

A sad, ignominious end to a once-great company. (Via Stephen Hackett.)

Motorola Xyboard 8.2 and 10.1 

Joanna Stern, The Verge:

Verizon has just officially announced that its version of the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition — the poorly-named Droid Xyboard 8.2 and 10.1 — will be hitting this month. However, like the original Xoom, you’re looking at a two-year contract and some rather high pricing. The 16GB model of the 8.2 will go for $430 while the Xyboard 10.1 will hit for $530. Those prices are not only higher than the UKs Wi-Fi-only offerings, but you’ve also got to commit to two years of Verizon service, which is a minimum of $30 a month for 2GB of data.

Good luck with that.

In better news, Verizon is promising that both tablets will be upgradeable to Android 4.0, though it isn’t committing to a timeline on that.

Of course not.

Analyst Shaw Wu: RIM ‘Blindsided’ by Kindle Fire Pricing 

What exactly has RIM actually been prepared for in the last five years? Remember this one, where they thought the iPhone was impossible after Steve Jobs unveiled it?

TSA Strip Searches 

Ken Kaye, reporting for the South Florida Sun-Sentinal:

Three South Florida women, all elderly and with medical problems, say Transportation Security Administration officers made them take off their clothes during the screening process at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last week.

All three, one with a defibrillator, one with a colostomy bag and the other with diabetes, say they were forced to disrobe in a private room at the same terminal.

Errors in Redaction 

Dan Levin and Carlyn Kolker, reporting for Reuters:

In her 65-page ruling denying Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung, Koh attempted to redact nearly two dozen sentences or short fragments. But because of a formatting characteristic in the prior electronic version, the redacted material can be viewed by copying text from the PDF and pasting it into another document. […]

According to the redacted portions, Apple’s own studies show that existing customers are unlikely to switch from iPhones to Samsung devices. Instead, the evidence suggests an increase in sales of Samsung smartphones is likely to come at the expense of other smartphones with Android operating systems, Koh wrote.

Nothing shocking about that, but it’s interesting.

In arguing against the injunction, Samsung — which is also a huge components supplier to Apple — said Apple’s supply cannot keep up with market demand for smartphone products.

Nice try.

The 2011 Eddys 

The editors of Macworld choose the best products of 2011. Great selections, as usual.

Kindle Fire Usability 

Jakob Nielsen:

The most striking observation from testing the Fire is that everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation. You haven’t seen the fat-finger problem in its full glory until you’ve watched users struggle to touch things on the Fire. One poor guy spent several minutes trying to log in to Facebook, but was repeatedly foiled by accidentally touching the wrong field or button — this on a page with only 2 text fields and 1 button.

Verizon Is Blocking Google Wallet on Galaxy Nexus 

But they’re blocking it in an open way, not a closed way.

Macworld/iWorld Early Bird Pricing Ends Today 

The new iFan Pass is a great idea. One low-cost ticket that grants you access to the Tech Talks (formerly known as the Users Conference), the exhibit show floor, and more. The price goes up from $75 to $100 after today. If you’re going to Macworld/iWorld, this is the pass you probably want, so why not save $25?

(Going to take a while to get used to calling it something other than “Macworld Expo”.)

Interesting piece by Bruce Tognazzini on managing the balance between browsing and searching in UI design. Totally agree with this bit on search in iOS Mail:

The Mail search for iOS is hopeless. You have to specify which folder the message is in. If I knew that, I probably could have just pawed through that particular folder and found it. Strangely, the Spotlight search at the Springboard level in the exact same iOS has no problem searching across all mail folders. Why should you have to know to avoid the built in search and, instead, leave Mail, go to the desktop, then to Spotlight, in order to look for an email? It makes no sense.

(Via MacSurfer.)

Glitch Allows Android Apps to Bug Phone Calls 

Dan Goodin:

Handsets sold by HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and Google contain code that exposes powerful capabilities to untrusted apps, scientists from North Carolina State University said. These “explicit capability leaks” bypass key security defenses built into Android that require users to clearly grant permission before an app gets access to personal information and functions such as text messaging. The code making the circumvention possible is contained in interfaces and services the device manufactures add to enhance the stock firmware supplied by Google.

This doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Microsoft Upgrades Xbox Live With 40 Entertainment Services, Live TV, and Kinect Voice Control 

Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat:

The update will be live on Tuesday for Xbox Live users, and it will greatly multiply the entertainment options that people have in their homes, providing access to on-demand TV, movies and user-generated videos. You can, for instance, get access to 26 TV channels from Verizon’s FiOS TV services, or the complete library of 10,000 On Demand movies from Comcast. You can download the new update in a matter of minutes.

“A lot of people have said they’re going to reinvent television,” Honey said. “I’m going to say it as well.”

Looks pretty cool.

I Wouldn’t Bet Against This 

Christopher Soghoian, on Twitter:

Prediction: within 2 weeks, all US carriers will ditch Carrier IQ. Within 2 months, Carrier IQ will change its name.

The Fed’s $7 Trillion Secret Loan Program 

Eliot Spitzer on the aforelinked scandal revealed by Bloomberg:

Imagine you walked into a bank, applied for a personal line of credit, and filled out all the paperwork claiming to have no debts and an income of $200,000 per year. The bank, based on these representations, extended you the line of credit. Then, three years later, after fighting disclosure all the way, you were forced by a court to tell the truth: At the time you made the statements to the bank, you actually were unemployed, you had a $1 million mortgage on your house on which you had failed to make payments for six months, and you hadn’t paid even the minimum on your credit-card bills for three months. Do you think the bank would just say: Never mind, don’t worry about it? Of course not. Whether or not you had paid back the personal line of credit, three FBI agents would be at your door within hours.

Yet this is exactly what the major American banks have done to the public.

Or, as Jon Stewart asked, “How the fuck is it that Martha Stewart went to jail?

Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress 

Terrific investigative reporting by Bob Ivry, Bradley Keoun, and Phil Kuntz for Bloomberg:

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Effectively, the Fed was selling dollar bills for 97 cents. Not to me, not to you, of course. Only to the big banks.

Linens ’n Things 

Jake Marsh on the inconsistency of Notification Center using the dark linen texture, even though it’s on top, not underneath. Bottom line: if Notification Center is on top, it shouldn’t use dark linen; if it uses dark linen, it should be at layer zero, underneath.

Siri Is Apple’s Broken Promise 

Mat Honan:

I’m sorry. Beta? Beta is for Google. When Apple does a public beta, it usually keeps it out of the hands of the, you know, public. It typically makes you go get betas. It doesn’t force them on you, much less advertise them. Not that it is an effective disclaimer for the vast buying public. For most people who see Apple’s ads, and buy iPhones, the word beta means nothing at all.

I like Siri, and use it, at least for text dictation, almost every day. But even for me — for whom Siri’s dictation accuracy is remarkably good — the whole thing still isn’t up to Apple’s usual level of fit and finish, not by a long shot.

But I’m still glad it’s there. I think the iPhone 4S is better off with Siri in its current state than it would be if Apple had waited until Siri was further along to release it. And I think part of why they released it as a beta is that it’ll be easier to improve voice recognition while it’s being widely used. But there’s no denying that it’s damn weird for the flagship new feature in Apple’s flagship new product to be so rough around the edges.

Shouldn’t Linen Be Underneath the Home Screen? 

Concept video by Max Rudberg illustrating a tweak to the iOS 5 Notification Center that I’ve seen many others suggest: pulling the regular screen down, revealing Notification Center underneath, as opposed to pulling Notification Center down over the regular screen. Just seems more consistent with the other ways that the dark linen texture is used.

(Via Shawn Blanc.)

Dell Streak 7 Is Discontinued 

Calob Horton, writing at StreakSmart:

Well, darn! Usually Fridays are great for everyone, but it looks like me and the rest of the StreakSmart crew are going to have a dreaded weekend, as the Dell Streak 7 was quietly discontinued. This comes not even four months after the Streak 5 was discontinued, as well.

I bet the guys at StreakSmart regret both halves of their website name.

Justin Williams: On Magazines and the iPad 

Scathing review of the GQ, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated iPad apps. And he hasn’t even gotten to the actual reading experience yet — only the dismal, frustrating, slow experience of procuring new issues.

Behind RIM’s $485M Write-Off 

Jean-Louis Gassée on the oddity of RIM’s $485M write-off for unsold PlayBooks:

Second, even if we accept a write-down to zero, 2.4 million tablets is a strange number. How could RIM have accumulated such large inventory?

How the iPad 2 Became Harry McCracken’s Favorite Computer 

Harry McCracken:

I think it’s possible to use an iPad as one’s primary device for professional-level content creation. Actually, scratch that. I’m positive it’s possible — because I’ve been doing it for the past three months, and I’ve been having a really good time.

Marco Arment Reviews the Kindle Touch, Nook Simple Touch, Kobo Touch, and Kindle 4 

His surprising (to me, at least) conclusion:

The low-end, non-touch Kindle 4 is actually my favorite e-reader today.

On The Verge 

Attention New Yorkers: I’m going to be a guest next week on On The Verge, the late night-style talk show hosted by Josh Topolsky.

Carrier IQ Denies Responsiblity for Insecure Log Files, Suggests Manufacturers Are to Blame 

There sure is a lot of finger-pointing in this story.

Today in Corporate Denials: Carrier IQ Edition 

Rob Beschizza compares the PR responses of four different carriers regarding the Carrier IQ privacy scandal.

Drunken RIM Employees Force Plane to Turn Around 

Greg Mercer, reporting for The Record:

Research In Motion has suspended two employees whose drunken rowdiness landed them in jail after forcing an Air Canada flight to make an emergency detour to Vancouver this week. Forty-five-year-old George Campbell of Conestogo and 38-year-old Paul Alexander Wilson of Kitchener have been ordered to pay restitution totalling $71,757 after pleading guilty to mischief.

The pair were apparently so intoxicated and belligerent on their packed Toronto to Beijing flight that the crew had to physically restrain them, according to the Richmond RCMP. One report, from a fellow passenger, said they had to be handcuffed to seats.

Ten bucks says they’re the same guys who ordered a production run of two million PlayBooks.

DaisyDisk 

My thanks to DaisyDisk for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. DaisyDisk is a terrific utility for the Mac. It presents you with a graphical overview of your hard disks, allowing you to easily see what they’re filled with. When you’re low on disk space, DaisyDisk is a great way to find large files that you no longer need.

DaisyDisk is fast, easy-to-use, and looks fantastic. Right now it’s on sale in the Mac App Store for just $9.99 — 50 percent off its regular price.

Facebook Acquires Gowalla 

So will Foursquare remain independent, or will someone buy them, too?

Related: How to delete your Gowalla account.

Coming Soon to a Trash Dump Near You 

One million BlackBerry PlayBooks.

Security Researchers Back Carrier IQ 

Interesting report by David Sarno, writing for the LA Times:

But security researchers have disagreed with conclusions drawn from Eckhart’s analysis.

“It’s not true,” said Dan Rosenberg, a senior consultant at Virtual Security Research, who said the video shows only diagnostic information and at no point provides evidence the data is stored or sent back to Carrier IQ. […]

Instead, the readouts on Eckhart’s video that occur when he presses keys are “debugging messages” — informational feedback meant to help smartphone programmers verify that their applications are working correctly. In this case, Carrier IQ’s developers appear to have set up the program to display a diagnostic message when a key is pressed or when a text message is sent.

My question, after reading this: Do other apps on the device have read access to these debugging logs? Can App A read the keystrokes you typed in App B, because behind the scenes Carrier IQ’s daemon was logging those key presses?

Why Siri Can’t Find Abortion Clinics and How It’s Not an Apple Conspiracy 

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch:

“I’m standing in front of a Planned Parenthood,” the CNN reporter says, “And Siri can’t find it when I search for abortion clinic.” No, it can’t. It’s not because Apple is pro-life. It’s because Planned Parenthood doesn’t call itself an abortion clinic.

Europe Set to Accuse Google of ‘Abuse of Dominance’ 

Zack Whittaker:

The European Commission opened a formal investigation into allegations that the search giant abused its position as the leader of the online search market, by unlawfully favouring its own services over that of rival companies.

Should Google be found to be flouting European antitrust laws, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its annual turnover — thought to be in the region of $3 billion (€2.24 bn).

Thomas Q. Brady on Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ 

Thomas Q. Brady’s criticism of Isaacson’s biography is spot-on:

When I say “analysis,” I’m not talking about psychology. There’s plenty of that. Isaacson seems to enjoy pointing out that Jobs never really overcame the pain of knowing that his parents gave him up for adoption. But all Isaacson’s armchair, Psychology Today thinking rendered from the source materials was a self-absorbed, immature, emotionally unstable control-freak.

There are two reasons that’s a complete shame.

  1. We already knew that about Steve Jobs.
  2. I know lots of people that could be described that way (we seem to have been breeding them in the US over the last couple (few?) decades), and none of them started a company in their garage that became one of the most valued corporations in the world.

What made Jobs different? This isn’t really answered.

Isaacson got the self-absorbed hypocritical asshole right, but the world is full of self-absorbed hypocritical assholes.

Justice Department Approves Google’s AdMeld Acquisition 

Jia Lynn Yang, reporting for The Washington Post:

The Justice Department on Friday gave the green light to Google’s $400 million acquisition of AdMeld, a major display advertising company.

The agency said the deal can proceed without any conditions, because a detailed analysis by antitrust lawyers found there are enough competitors that offer services similar to AdMeld, a company that helps online publishers sell their ads.

That’s a relief. I was getting nervous that Google was running out of ways to sell advertising.

Misscrolling 

Tim Bray, on the problem with paging down to the bottom of a web page. I’ve been bothered by this same thing since forever. (Maybe on Safari the solution would be to bounce the web page, showing the linen texture “under” the page — the same thing you see when you scroll past the end of the page using trackpad gestures.)

Update: DF reader Frank Kohlhepp put together a Safari extension that simply adds a screenful of whitespace to the bottom of every page. Not bad for a quick hack, and indeed it solves the problem Bray describes. But there’s a cost: with this extension, the scrollbar thumb is no longer an accurate indicator of content length, particularly with short web pages. Maybe that doesn’t matter, though? Scrollbars aren’t even persistently visible on Lion if you’re using a trackpad. I’m going to try using this.

RIM to Take $485 Million Bath on Unsold PlayBooks 

RIM:

Research In Motion Limited (RIM), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that it would record a pre-tax provision in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 of approximately $485 million, $360 million after tax, related to its inventory valuation of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. […]

As previously disclosed, RIM has a high level of BlackBerry PlayBook inventory. The Company now believes that an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers.

Translation: We made a lot of these things and we can’t sell them.

Microsoft to Drop Traditional Desktop From Windows 8 ARM Tablets? 

Mary Jo Foley:

Back in September, there was controversy as to whether Microsoft planned to allow “Desktop” (non-Metro) apps to run on Windows 8 ARM-based tablets. But I was told they would, and, indeed, the Softies and partners showed off the Desktop app on ARM tablets at the Build conference.

However, if my Windows Weekly co-host Paul Thurrott is right, Microsoft has rethought that plan and is leaning toward cutting the Desktop from Windows 8 ARM tablets. That would mean only Metro-style apps would be supported on that platform. (Thurrott just dropped that bomb while we were taping Windows Weekly on December 1.)

My theory from September is looking pretty good.

If Microsoft does do away with the Desktop App on ARM, it also would mean — unless Microsoft also changes its strategy for x86/x64-based Windows 8 tablets — that Windows 8 will be different on different hardware.

As I wrote back in September, though, that was always going to be the case, because ARM-based Windows 8 machines were never going to be able to run already-compiled x86 binaries. The only question was whether Windows 8 ARM machines would be different because they could only run compiled-for-ARM software (Desktop and Metro), or whether they’d be different because they could only run Metro software. Either way they must be different somehow.

Man Shoots Video of 18-Foot Great White Shark With iPhone 4S 

Jiminy.

Half Wacko 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with topics ranging from game consoles, retina display iPads and future Macs, a wee bit on this Carrier IQ stuff, to the demise of HyperCard. Brought to you by TinyLetter and Reinvigorate.

Carrier IQ Speaks 

John Paczkowski spoke to executives at Carrier IQ. Even they’re backpedaling, pointing the finger at carriers:

The carriers. They decide what’s to be collected and how long it’s stored — typically about 30 days. And according to Carrier IQ, the data is in their control the whole time.

“It’s the operator that determines what data is collected,” says Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart. “They make that decision based on their privacy standards and their agreement with their users, and we implement it.”

On this point, Lenhart is particularly emphatic. “We capture only the data they specify, and provide it to them,” he reiterates. “We don’t capture more than that.”

They only capture what the carriers ask for.

The Tell 

MG Siegler:

My initial reaction would be that this is being hugely blown out of proportion — something we’ve seen before in the mobile space — BUT the fact that every single company in the mobile space is now trying to distance themselves from Carrier IQ is not a good sign.

The companies that know best what Carrier IQ does, what data it has collected, are getting as far away from Carrier IQ as possible, as quickly as possible.

Dan Frommer on How to Write a Weblog 

Great advice. I even agree with his priorities.

Stanley Kubrick’s New York 

Post-WWII New York, through the camera of Stanley Kubrick. Not bad.

See also: Kubrick’s Chicago, circa 1949.

Mobile Phone Muggings on the Rise, at Least in San Francisco 

C.W. Nevius, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle:

Official police statistics show that there were more than 40 cell phone muggings in November. The number may not seem high, but it is unsettling with just a portion of the crimes reported, and virtually all of them involve a gun, knife or physical assault.

“You’re focused on your phone, talking, and you get sucker punched,” said Tenderloin Station Capt. Joe Garrity.

Adam Engst: Let’s Stop With the Siri Baiting 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Today’s Edition of Cognitive Dissonance 

From a Changewave survey of iPhone 4S owners:

When we looked at what new owners disliked most about their iPhone 4S, two things dwarfed all others — Battery Life and the Lack of 4G. A total of 38% of owners say the iPhone 4S’s Battery Life is Too Short, while 30% say they dislike the Lack of 4G Capability.

Gee, I wonder what would happen to battery life if it had 4G.

AT&T, Sprint Confirm Use of Carrier IQ Software on Handsets 

Jaikumar Vijayan, reporting for Computerworld:

AT&T and Sprint, two of the largest U.S. wireless carriers, confirmed that its mobile handsets use the software but only for legitimate service and quality-related purposes.

Apple Statement on Carrier IQ 

Apple:

We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so.

I.e., they’ve done nothing contrary to their diagnostics privacy policy. “Most of our products” is weaselly, though.

RIM, HTC on Carrier IQ: Blame the Carriers 

John Paczkowski:

HTC went one step further, fingering the carriers outright. “Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier,” the company said, stressing that it is not a customer or partner of Carrier IQ. “HTC is investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by the Carrier IQ application,” it added.

Sen. Al Franken Sends a Letter to Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart 

Sen. Al Franken:

But right now, Carrier IQ has a lot of questions to answer.

Verizon Disavows Use of Carrier IQ 

Kevin Fitchard, reporting for GigaOm:

“Any report that Verizon Wireless uses Carrier IQ is patently false,” Verizon Wireless spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said in an email. In an email follow-up, spokeswoman Debra Lewis elaborated. “We did recently notify customers about new privacy programs; we were transparent about how customer information will be used and gave clear choices to customers about whether they want to participate in these programs,” she said (the privacy policy is here). “Carrier IQ is not involved in these programs.”

No weasel words there.

Update: A few readers seem confused about whether I’m being sarcastic here. I’m not. This reads to me like a clear statement that Verizon is not using Carrier IQ. If the above is true, Verizon is not involved.

Read Between the Lines 

RIM, in a statement to Reuters:

RIM does not pre-install the Carrier IQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the Carrier IQ app before sales or distribution. RIM also did not develop or commission the development of the Carrier IQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app.

So RIM doesn’t install it, and RIM doesn’t “authorize” carriers to install it, but note that they do not say that the carriers do not install it. So I think this headline by Nilay Patel at The Verge goes too far: “Carrier IQ not installed on BlackBerry phones, says RIM”. Sounds to me like it is installed on at least some BlackBerry phones, and RIM is distancing itself from it.

More on Google and Carrier IQ 

Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

The Carrier IQ smartphone tracking scandal continues to grow, but we’ve just learned some interesting news from an extremely reliable source: the Google Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and the original Xoom tablet do not contain Carrier IQ software. Each of those devices was launched in direct partnership with Google as the flagship for a new version of Android, so it seems that the addition of Carrier IQ comes from OEMs and carriers after Google open-sources Android’s code.

Assuming that The Verge’s source is from Google — which could well be a wrong assumption, but that’s what it sounds like to me — it looks like Google is moving to distance itself and Android from Carrier IQ. If this turns into a scandal it’s going to get pinned — correctly, it seems at this point — on the carriers.

Carrier IQ, Android, and the Carriers 

Seth Weintraub:

Carrier IQ is something that Carriers put on phones as part of their OEM software. This is out of the hands of both Google and the manufacturers.

And here’s Kyle Sluder, on Twitter:

This CarrierIQ story has been wrongly turned into an Apple vs. Android battle. It’s all about the carriers.

Chris Rawson on Siri’s Purported ‘Pro-Life’ Bias 

Chris Rawson, writing for TUAW:

Siri’s unhelpful and sometimes misleading answers to pressing health questions stand in stark contrast to her prompt and accurate responses to inquiries about nearby escort services,” says Think Progress, while Slate goes even farther off the deep end and says, “many around the Web [are] wondering if Siri is pro-life and whether Apple is attempting to impose its morals upon the rest of us.”

This is a textbook example of sensationalistic media making something from absolutely nothing.

Plus, Apple is a pretty progressive company, especially by Fortune 500 standards. If anything, the company’s politics on this issue would skew the other way.

A Siri search for “Planned Parenthood” almost always returns results no matter where you search in the States — because that search is powered by Yelp rather than whatever comparatively limited database Siri is using for more specific searches like “abortion clinic” or “birth control.” If Siri is really supposed to be “pro-life” and “imposing morals” on its users, then searches for the politically charged Planned Parenthood clinics would also turn up no results, wouldn’t they?

Exactly.

Apple Says Siri’s Abortion Answers Are a Glitch 

Jenna Wortham, reporting for the NYT, gets a statement from Apple on the “Siri won’t help you find an abortion clinic” meme:

“Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information, and while it can find a lot, it doesn’t always find what you want,” said Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, in a phone interview late Wednesday. “These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better, and we will in the coming weeks.”

Carrier IQ on iOS 

Good investigative work by Grant “chpwn” Paul. iOS includes a Carrier IQ daemon, but it doesn’t seem to log any particularly sensitive information. Nothing like a keylogger or reading SMS messages. He’s documenting his research on Twitter as he goes.

Update: Worth noting that it appears that nothing gets submitted to Carrier IQ if you opt-out with the “Send Automatically” switch in Settings → General → About → Diagnostics & Usage. That’s deep inside Settings, but Apple prompts you for that setting during iOS 5 device setup, too.

Ads via The Deck Ads via The Deck