Linked List: September 2012

Rogue Amoeba Tenth Anniversary Sale 

Last day of a big sale from one of the great indie Mac and iOS developers (and a longtime supporter of Daring Fireball).

Sakura Quick Math 

My thanks to Shiny Things for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Sakura Quick Math, a beautiful new app for the iPhone and iPad that helps kids improve their arithmetic and handwriting. Instead of tapping buttons to answer questions, you write the answer on screen. It looks great (kids are never too young to start appreciating the beauty of Futura) and plays great. It’s right up the alley for my third-grade son; he’s been digging it all week.

Best of all, it’s just 99 cents in the App Store. If you’ve got kids ages 6-11, Sakura Quick Math is for you.

Another Slice of Humble Pie 

Original description on Apple’s iOS Maps web page:

All of which may just make this app the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.

Now reads:

All in a beautiful vector-based interface that scales and zooms with ease.

(Via 9to5Mac.)

Old Maps vs. New Maps 

Marco Tabini was thinking what I was thinking about Jason Matheson’s test of iOS 6 Maps against Ontario city and town names — that it would be useful to compare the results against iOS 5 with the Google-backed Maps:

As far as I can see, the data supports three conclusions:

  1. Given our set of data, old Maps doesn’t fare that much better than new Maps.

  2. There seems to be a significant difference in the way the two companies approach the task of returning search results, with Google doing whatever it takes to get any result out, while Apple seems to prefer accuracy above all.

  3. In the end, this is not really a particularly useful test insofar as determining the accuracy of Maps. At best, we get to see how good Apple is as at finding things, but with targets as big as whole towns we’re unlikely to unearth any information that is really useful.

From Bad to Worse 

The Macalope:

This offends the tender sensibilities of the artist formerly known as Fake Steve, because the only rational reaction is for us to all lose our foul-word-for-composure because the data on one app on Apple’s latest mobile operating system isn’t accurate in many instances. Someone needs to be frog-marched out of One Infinite Loop!

Looks like I owe The Macalope a beer.

The Atlantic: ‘The Case for Abolishing Patents (Yes, All of Them)’ 

Jordan Weissmann, writing for The Atlantic:

Critics have suggested plenty of reasonable reforms, from eliminating software patents to clamping down on “trolls” who buy up patent portfolios only so they can file lawsuits. But do we need a more radical solution? Would we be possibly be better off without any patents at all?

That’s the striking suggestion from a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis working paper by Michele Boldrin and David Levine, professors at Washington University in St. Louis who argue that any patent system, no matter how well conceived, is bound to devolve into the kind of quagmire we’re dealing with today.

Not going to happen here in the U.S., alas, but we can dream. (Via John Siracusa.)

Funny How Things Work Out 

Interesting tidbit in this report from Nick Wingfield and Brian X. Chen for the NYT:

Including a maps app on the first iPhone was not even part of the company’s original plan as the phone’s unveiling approached in January 2007. Just weeks before the event, Mr. Jobs ordered a mapping app to show off the capabilities of the touch-screen device.

Two engineers put together a maps app for the presentation in three weeks, said a former Apple engineer who worked on iPhone software, and who declined to be named because he did not want to speak publicly about his previous employer. The company hastily cut a deal with Google to use its map data.

At the time, relying on Google, which had introduced its map service a couple of years earlier, made sense. Apple and Google had generally friendly relations, and Google’s chief executive at the time, Eric E. Schmidt, served on Apple’s board.

Putting Schmidt on the board was the single biggest mistake in Jobs’s entire time at the helm. This corner Apple has painted itself into with Maps today might never have happened if Jobs hadn’t misplaced his trust in Schmidt.

Hate to Say ‘I Told You So’, Where by ‘Hate’ I Mean ‘Draw Great Satisfaction From’ 

Yours truly, back in May:

Here’s the thing. Apple’s homegrown mapping data has to be great.

Mapping is an essential phone feature. It’s one of those few features that almost everyone with an iPhone uses, and often relies upon. That’s why Apple has to do their own — they need to control essential technology. I suspect Apple would be pushing to do their own maps even if their relationship with Google were still hunky-dory, as it was circa 2007. (Remember Eric Schmidt coming on stage during the iPhone introduction?) But as things actually stand today between Apple and Google, relying on Google for mapping services is simply untenable.

This is a high-pressure switch for Apple. Regressions will not be acceptable. The purported whiz-bang 3D view stuff might be great, but users are going to have pitchforks and torches in hand if practical stuff like driving and walking directions are less accurate than they were with Google’s data. Keep in mind too, that Android phones ship with turn-by-turn navigation.

(Via Raging Thunderbolt.) While I’m at it, some Twitter feedback today suggests I haven’t made it clear who I think is at fault. I thought it was obvious: this whole thing is entirely Apple’s fault. I don’t blame Google for withholding turn-by-turn, voice navigation, and vector map tiles from Apple. Google negotiated in their own interests. Nor do I blame Apple for breaking away. Like I wrote, the situation was untenable.

It was Apple that decided to put all its mapping eggs in Google’s basket in 2007, and what Apple did after breaking away from Google was entirely up to them. They came up short. (Although likewise, it’s nobody but Google’s fault that they don’t have a standalone Google Maps app ready to go in the App Store.)

‘Instawhatsit’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with very special guest Marco Arment. Topics include: iPhone 5, accessibility features in Instapaper, Instagram filters, the future of photography, and more.

Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:

  • Macminicolo — Low cost, high performance hosted Mac servers.
  • Game Your Video — Fun, super-simple video editing and filters app for the iPhone and iPad.
Apple Launches New App Store Feature Section for Alternative Maps 

Another gracious and humble response to the Maps situation.

The new Maps app is weak. That’s the core problem. But given that hand to play right now, this is a good move.

Why Mobile Safari Doesn’t Have a Unified Search/URL Field 

MG Siegler and I talked about this last week on The Talk Show. I agree with Killian Bell — pretty sure Mobile Safari still has separate fields for URLs and web search so that they can use the special URL keyboard (no space bar, “.com” button, etc.) when editing a URL.

Apple Maps in Ontario: Not Good 

Jason Matheson wrote some code to search for 2,000 cities and town in Ontario using the new iOS 6 maps. Pretty damning results. (Would be interesting to see the results of the same test on iOS 5, with the Google maps data.)

The iPhone 5’s Low Light Boost Mode 

Jim Rhoades, developer of the Scout Camera iPhone app:

However, after posting a thread to the Apple developer forums I’ve learned that 3rd party developers CAN take advantage of this special “low light boost mode”. (Thanks Apple!) […]

They chose to make the low light boost mode optional, as the increase in light sensitivity comes at the cost of some increased noise (not surprisingly). Making it optional was a good decision.

Great news.

A Letter From Tim Cook on Maps 

Humble and honest.

iLounge’s iPhone 5 Camera Comparison 

Really makes you wonder what Consumer Reports was looking at.

Consumer Reports on the iPhone 5 Camera’s Low-Light Capabilities 

Consumer Reports:

The claimed improvements of the iPhone 5 in handling low-light shots were not apparent in our tests. In overall quality, both still and video images shot in low light on the iPhone 5 were of comparable quality to those shot on the iPhone 4S, though they did appear a little “ccoler” [sic], with a bluish hue. The shutter delay for both iPhones seemed all but instantaneous.

I’m baffled how they arrived at this conclusion, given that I’ve found the iPhone 5 camera to be not just a little better than the 4S in low light, but remarkably better. The only explanation I can think of is that whoever conducted these tests wasn’t using the built-in Camera app on the iPhone 5, and instead used a third-party camera app. In my experience, the iPhone 5’s new low-light capabilities are at least partially software-driven — low-light shots taken with third-party apps don’t seem any better than on the iPhone 4S.

I just now took a few sample shots of a toy gun on the floor in the hallway outside my office, and put them on Flickr. The only light source is the fading evening daylight from a south-facing window. I posted three photos taken with an iPhone 5: one using the built-in Camera app, and two taken with third party apps (Camera Plus Pro and VSCO Cam). I included one taken with the built-in Camera app on an iPhone 4S.

Looking at the EXIF data, the big difference is that the photo shot with the built-in Camera app on the iPhone 5 had an ISO speed of 2500; the other three all maxed out at 800. It appears the iPhone 5 can go up to ISO 3200. That’s the two-stop difference Apple is promoting.

RIM Lost Less Than Expected in Second Quarter 

Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica:

Research in Motion, the company behind the struggling BlackBerry line of smartphones, beat Wall Street’s expectations in its second fiscal quarter, with a net loss of $235 million dollars, or 45 cents per share. That’s slightly better than analysts’ predictions of 46 cents per share, and it’s also significantly better than last quarter, when the Waterloo, Ontario-based company lost $518 million.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps 

Here come the jokes.

Pogue on iOS 6 Maps 

David Pogue:

In short, Maps is an appalling first release. It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed.

Typical fanboy.

Scrollbars Through History 

Just what it says on the tin. Via Coudal.

John Paczkowski on the Apple-Google Maps Negotiations and Timing 

Great reporting by John Paczkowski:

Apple pushed Google hard to provide the data it needed to bring voice-guided navigation to iOS. But according to people familiar with Google’s thinking, the search giant, which had invested massive sums in creating that data and views it as a key feature of Android, wasn’t willing to simply hand it over to a competing platform.

And if there were terms under which it might have agreed to do so, Apple wasn’t offering them. Sources tell AllThingsD that Google, for example, wanted more say in the iOS maps feature set. It wasn’t happy simply providing back-end data. It asked for in-app branding. Apple declined. It suggested adding Google Latitude. Again, Apple declined. And these became major points of contention between the two companies, whose relationship was already deteriorating for a variety of other reasons, including Apple’s concern that Google was gathering too much user data from the app.

Apple wanted turn-by-turn and vector map tiles. Google wanted more control over the Maps app, more branding, and more identifiable location data. So Apple moved. I’ll have more to say on the timing of all this a little later tonight.

RadioShack’s CEO Steps Down 

The AP:

RadioShack said Wednesday that its CEO is leaving under an agreement with the board, the latest blow for the struggling electronics retailer.

Guess he never did figure it out.

Damned if You Do, Googled if You Don’t 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The ridicule that Apple has suffered following the introduction of the Maps application in iOS 6 is largely self-inflicted. The demo was flawless, 2D and 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, spectacular flyovers… but not a word from the stage about the app’s limitations, no self-deprecating wink, no admission that iOS Maps is an infant that needs to learn to crawl before walking, running, and ultimately lapping the frontrunner, Google Maps. Instead, we’re told that Apple’s Maps may be “the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.”

Under-promise, over-deliver. Apple usually does a good job at that, but I agree with Gassée: they did not set expectations properly for the new Maps app.

MLB and Tickets.com Bet on Apple’s Passbook 

Matthew Panzarino had a good experience using Passbook for tickets to a San Francisco Giants game:

As far as the experience goes, it was smooth for me. I received an email from Tickets.com with a confirmation of ticket purchase and the pass was loaded to Passbook at a tap. When at the park, it was redeemed by a ticket taker with a special scanner.

Passbook and Apple Retail Stores 

Jordan Staniscia:

The thing is, why is Apple waiting for third parties? Apple owns retail locations — one of the types of businesses Passbook was built to support. Couldn’t it have given out iPhone 5 preorder slips or a coupon for an Apple TV to fill this ecosystem even a drip?

Or how about a coupon for a discounted Lightning adapter? Or gift cards?

‘Saving Android From a Second-Rate Future’ 

Anil Dash, writing for Wired:

So unless your phone says “Nexus” on it, you’re not running true Android. And Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, for example, accounts for just 0.5 percent of the smartphone market. It’s a safe bet that there are more people using jailbroken iPhones than Nexus phones. If I were a Google engineer who’d poured his time and effort into the beautiful Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, I’d be pissed.

Good piece; he makes a strong case for why the total “Android” platform lacks cohesion. But this is one of those pieces where the good stuff is in the comments.

What’s the Deal With Passbook? 

Erica Ogg:

Burning question I have to ask: what is up with Apple’s Passbook app? Since its unveiling at WWDC, it was one of the things I looked forward to most in iOS 6. As a frequent traveler and someone who detests printing things out, I love the idea of storing digital tickets, boarding passes and rewards cards in one place on my phone. But after using it for the first time Sunday, I’m left feeling mostly perplexed and a little let down.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” is not something you usually ask about an Apple product. Its potential is great and I do think Passbook will get better, but right now it’s mostly waiting for support from third-parties.

Instagram Phasing Out Live Filters 

The good news: Instagram (“finally”) shipped an update today to support the iPhone 5 display size. The bad news, from Matthew Panzarino:

Instagram has posted a notice on its ‘known issues’ site (as pointed out to us by Mark Wilkins) that details the reason live filters aren’t on the iPhone 5:

As of the current release (v3.1), Instagram does not support live filters on the iPhone 5. Going forward, live filters will be phased out as we work to improve the Instagram experience for all users.

So, for whatever reason, Instagram feels that live filters aren’t a part of the best experience it can provide. And it appears that they’ll be ‘phased out’ in future versions of the app

Sounds like a pile of horseshit from Instagram, considering that the whole reason they gave for replacing their original not-live but aesthetically superior filters with the current crop was that live filters were an important feature. If they bring back the old filters, I’ll say hip-hip-hooray. If they stick with the current meh filters and remove live previewing, I say boo-hiss.

Remember the Gotham filter?

I hope I’m wrong, but this reeks to me of pandering to the lowest common denominator as Instagram expands to more Android phones and other non-iOS platforms.

Duet With Siri 

Jonathan Mann wishes Siri a happy birthday.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins: ‘We Have a Clear Shot at Being Number Three’ 

Aim high, RIM.

Microsoft Holds Another Hands-Off With Surface Tablets 

When are people going to get to try these things — let alone buy them?

Video of That 2007 ‘Intel Inside’ Sticker Question 

Steve Jobs at his extemporaneous best. Dumb question but such a great answer. (Phil Schiller got a good jab in too.)

Update: Changed the link from an audio recording to this YouTube clip.

iPhone 5 Display vs. iPhone 4 Display 

Retinal neuroscientist Bryan Jones compares the iPhone 5 and 4S displays under a stereomicroscope:

It turns out that the pixels in the iPhone 5 are precisely the same size as the iPhone 4 pixels, but the iPhone 5 pixels have better color saturation with more contrast, seen particularly in the blue pixels. I did not calculate the difference in color saturation between the two iPhones, but it is pretty clear to the eye which is which. Apple claims 44% increase in color saturation and from these images, I believe them.

‘Devs, BlackBerry Is Going to Keep on Loving You’ 

The band is playing in front of everyone in the world who is actually waiting for BlackBerry 10.

Measuring iPhone Demand 

Horace Dediu:

Instead of doubling its performance for the launch weekend the company only sold 25% more units. How can there be this discrepancy? Is this a sign that demand is not growing at the rate we’ve become accustomed to? Is it a sign that there are shortages of components or labor or other production problems?

No, probably none of the above.

Major Samsung Galaxy TouchWiz Exploit Hard Resets a Device by Just Visiting a Website 

I’m sure this will get just as much attention as it would if it were the iPhone. How long will it take for a software update to reach all affected devices?

New PCs Have Been Covered With Ads Since the ’90s 

So with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD “special offer” ads and Canonical putting Amazon shopping links in the latest release of Ubuntu — I can’t help but wonder how many of the people up in arms in protest over these things are using PC laptops covered with those stickers from Intel and Microsoft. Ads in the software get people riled up, but ads stuck all over the hardware don’t. I don’t get it.

(Remember in 2007 when reporter Bob Keefe asked Steve Jobs during a rare post-event Q&A why Apple doesn’t put “Intel Inside” stickers on Macs?)

Detailed Technical Analysis of the Lightning Connector 

Rainer Brockerhoff:

I’ll be seriously surprised if even one of those points is not verified when the specs come out. And this is what is meant by “future-proof”. Re-using USB and micro-USB (or any existing standard) could never do any of that.

The Onion: ‘William Safire Orders Two Whoppers Junior’ 

I miss William Safire.

Postpositive Adjectives and Pluralization 

Regarding how to pluralize iPhone 5, a few readers have suggested iPhones 5, as with other phrases using postpositive adjectives (attorneys general, poets laureate). This is more elegant, but it sounds pretentious to my ears.

iOS 6 Maps and China 

Anthony Drendel:

Now, I’m not disputing that Maps does give a lot of strange results to a lot of people all around the world, but for a large, large number of people, iOS 6 Maps has been a huge improvement over Google Maps. I’m talking about those of us who live in China (you know, the place with 1.3+ billion people and the second-largest economy in the world). Google Maps was always pretty terrible here. In the big cities and tourist centers, it was passable. Once you left China’s large metropolises, however, you were pretty much on your own. You could usually see expressways, highways, and even a lot of smaller roads, but there were very, very few shops, restaurants, banks, ATMs, etc. listed. That has changed with iOS 6.

Interesting, to say the least.

‘Disappointing’ 

Business Insider is all over today’s big story that Apple’s opening weekend sales for the iPhone 5 were “disappointing”. Nicholas Carlson proves it, with charts:

This is a very disappointing number. It’s below top Apple analyst Gene Munster’s estimate of 6 million to 10 million.

Gene Munster, of course, has a spotless record. Especially regarding iPhone opening weekends.

Worse, it indicates that growth may be slowing at Apple.

Growth of what? Consumer demand? That’s certainly what Carlson is implying, but we don’t know that. There are no unsold iPhone 5’s. You can’t measure demand when supply is constrained. Pre-order one right now and you get a “3-4 weeks” shipping estimate. The only growth that we know has slowed is Apple’s ability to make more new iPhones available on day one. They’ve made more available for the opening weekend than ever before but still couldn’t (or, perhaps, chose not to) make enough to meet demand. This is not a difficult economics problem.

Whose Estimates? 

The business press is playing Apple’s record opening weekend iPhone sales as “a miss”. Bloomberg’s headline: “Apple iPhone 5 Misses Estimates as 5 Million Units Sold”. Business Insider (they even put theirs in all-caps): “iPhone 5 Opening Weekend Sales Come in Worse Than Expected”. But whose estimates? Whose expectations? Apple’s own? Nope, they didn’t release any public predictions. The estimates were from Wall Street analysts — guys who have a history of getting things wrong. And they didn’t even know how to account for iPhone 5’s (see that?) that have already been pre-ordered but have not yet been shipped or delivered. Apple’s 5 million number is for iPhones that are in customers’ hands.

The question we all want answered is how strong demand is for the iPhone 5. We don’t know that yet. All we know so far is that Apple produced 5 million of them in time for delivery last Friday and they sold all of them. There might be millions of additional pending pre-orders. (Including mine.)

Apple: iPhone 5 First Weekend Sales Top Five Million 

Apple PR:

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”

Interesting pluralization of iPhone 5. This is tricky because of Apple’s “just add an S to the name of the previous model” naming scheme for the iPhone 3GS and 4S. It’s potentially ambiguous to write “iPhone 4s” when referring to multiple iPhone 4 units — and in the context of an all-cap headline or sub-head style, completely ambiguous. And then how do you pluralize iPhone 4S? iPhone 4Ss? iPhone 4Ses? Eww. That’s why I follow the NY Times Manual of Style and Usage’s edict:

Use apostrophes in the plurals of abbreviations and in plurals formed from letters and figures: M.D.’s; C.P.A.’s; TV’s; VCR’s; p’s and q’s; 747’s, size 7’s. (Many publications omit such apostrophes, but they are needed to make The Times’s all-cap headlines intelligible and are therefore used through the paper for constancy.) Unlike abbreviations, shortened word forms do not take the apostrophe in the plural: co-ops; condos. Also omit apostrophes in the plurals of “words as words” (that is, words that are themselves under discussion): ifs, ands or buts; dos and don’ts.

Anyway, that’s a lot of phones.

Tim Cook and the iPhone 5 Rollout Schedule 

Reuters:

By next Friday, the iPhone 5 will be in 31 countries, and will be in 100 by the end of the calendar year. That would be 30 more than the rollout of the predecessor phone, the 4S, over a similar period, Jeffries analyst Peter Misek calculated.

That means Apple has worked out supply constraints and inked deals now with 240 carriers. It will get enough phones out the door in the next 10 days to have a material effect on earnings.

It’s not just that they’re making better iPhones every year. They’re getting better at making them.

iCloud Storage Limits 

Matt Brian, writing for The Next Web:

Apple has begun sending last-minute reminders to users currently enjoying 20 GB of free iCloud storage, warning that from September 30, it will downgrade their accounts unless they take action.

Now that iCloud is up and running and seemingly holding up under demand, Apple needs to start offering more than 5 GB of storage at the free level. That’s not even enough to back up two iOS devices — and Apple certainly doesn’t want to discourage people from buying additional devices or from backing them up to iCloud.

Google started giving away 1 GB of storage in 2004 when Gmail debuted. The bar has long since been raised.

Thanks to FCC? 

Duncan Davidson, after researching the aforelinked news that the Verizon iPhone 5 ships with an unlocked GSM SIM tray, concludes it was mandated by the FCC:

Thank you FCC, or whatever Federal group it was that put this into the regulations. I have to say that I’m sorta shocked that this little bit of consumer protection snuck in to the US Code like this. And really quite pleased. After all, there’s really no need for carriers to lock down SIM slots when they’ve already got you on the hook for a contract.

So, is this the reason Verizon is shipping the iPhone 5 unlocked? It seems that way, but Verizon might just be being nice on this one. Somehow, I doubt it.

The Verizon iPhone 5 Is GSM Unlocked 

Jeff Benjamin, writing for iDownload Blog:

I can confirm that the Verizon iPhone 5 is indeed GSM unlocked. Even though I bought an iPhone 5 from Verizon under contract, I was able to cut down my AT&T Micro SIM, and use it in my Verizon iPhone 5 to pick up an AT&T signal. By doing so, I was able to hop onto AT&T’s HPSA+ network, or “4G” as they so ridiculously name it. […]

I did reach out to Verizon via phone, and they confirmed to me that the phone was unlocked, and that I could use it with another SIM, even though I’m under contract, and just signed on as a customer today. That’s great news for travelers, and a big win for customers. Let’s just hope things stay this way.

That’s a nice surprise.

iPhone 5 Packages in FedEx Distribution Center 

Reminds me of the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile 

MG Siegler:

Don’t build an app based on your website. Build the app that acts as if websites never existed in the first place. Build the app for the person who has never used a desktop computer.

The Bond 50 

Great contest prize from Wired: all 22 official James Bond movies on Blu-ray.

Update: This is a disappointment, though: Sean Connery refuses to participate in the 50th anniversary promotion.

Avocado 

My thanks to Avocado for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Avocado is a new way to stay connected to the most important person in your life — husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. Avocado gives you a private social network just for the two of you. You can chat, share lists (groceries, ideas, anything), build a library of personal expressions to re-send easily, and more. Everything is saved, which lets you build a shared archive of your relationship. And, the iPhone app looks great and gives you a really nice UI for everything.

Avocado is free for a week. Now’s the time to try it.

David Pogue and Yours Truly on Charlie Rose 

Online version of our segment from last night’s show.

Apple Maps: The Counternotions FAQ 

Kontra:

Yes, Apple’s evil. When Apple barred Flash from iOS, Flash was the best and only way to play .swf files. Apple’s video alternative, H.264, wasn’t nearly as widely used. Thus Apple’s solution was “inferior” and appeared to be against its own users’ interests. Sheer corporate greed! Trillion words have been written about just how misguided Apple was in denying its users the glory of Flash on iOS. Well, Flash is now dead on mobile. And yet the Earth’s obliquity of the ecliptic is still about 23.4°. We seemed to have survived that one.

The Economics of Stolen Bicycles 

Rohan Dhar, Priceonomics:

Ultimately, that’s the point everyone seems to agree on — bike thieves are assholes.

Swiss Federal Railways Says Apple Copied Its Iconic Railway Clock 

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Apple needs to cough up a licensing fee here.

‘The iPhone 5 Episode’ 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with special guest MG Siegler, discussing — what else? — the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.

Brought to you by two outstanding sponsors:

  • LogYourRun — Track your outdoor activities with your iPhone.
  • Pixelmator — Beautifully designed, powerful image editing for Mac OS X.
iOS 6 Adoption Rate 

Ina Fried:

However, new data from Chitika shows a massive adoption in just the first 24 hours that the software was available. The firm said that, within the first day, iOS 6 peaked at more than 15 percent of Web traffic to its mobile ad network, and has remained at that level. […]

By comparison, Chitika notes that the latest version of Android — Jelly Bean — achieved just a 1.5 percent adoption in its first two months.

Apple has this OS upgrade thing down.

Yours Truly on Charlie Rose Tonight 

With David Pogue. No idea what we’re going to talk about.

The Amazing iOS 6 Maps 

Speaking of tough rows to hoe, Apple’s got one with Maps.

Entire Apple Design Team Flies to London for D&AD Awards 

Gideon Spanier, writing for The London Evening Standard:

Even more unusually, Apple flew in its entire design team from San Francisco in recognition of the importance of the D&AD Awards and all 16 of them - 14 men and two women - accompanied Sir Jonathan on stage to collect the award for best design studio.

Looks like a happy bunch.

Nokia Politely Points Out the Lumia 920’s Advantages over the iPhone 5 

Nokia has a tough row to hoe the next month or so. “Wait” is a tough message to sell.

Update: The volume and weight differences must have slipped Nokia’s mind.

Technology vs. Utility 

Matt Drance on the iPhone 5 and NFC:

It’s no coincidence that the “Tech Specs” link atop apple.com/iphone is dead last.

Rene Ritchie’s iOS 6 Review 

I didn’t count, but it seems like Rene puts more images in his reviews than I do.

Retina Display Support for Microsoft Office Apps 

Your move, Adobe.

Google Effectively No-Comments Regarding New Google Maps App for iOS 

Danny Sullivan:

I asked Google today if we’d be getting a Google Maps app, and if so, when and also if it would include turn-by-turn navigation. Here’s what I was sent back:

We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.

Let’s parse the statement. It sounds like Google wants its own app for iOS 6 — hence the “regardless of device” part. But it’s not confirming that this will happen soon or why it’s not already happened.

Is Apple somehow blocking it? If so, Google’s not saying. Is Google holding back for some strange reason? Again, we just don’t know.

I highly doubt Apple would “block” it, where by “block” I mean “reject a submitted Google Maps app that complies with the App Store guidelines”. But how limited would a maps app be given those guidelines? The app couldn’t do turn-by-turn while in the background, for one thing. Correction: I was wrong. Turn-by-turn directions in the background are supported for App Store.

Anyway, I wouldn’t read too much into this statement. It’s just good PR not to say anything until it’s ready.

Charles Arthur on the iPhone 5 

Charles Arthur:

For existing iPhone owners who have an iCloud account to which they have backed up their phone, there’s a nice welcome that didn’t exist last year. If you activate a new iPhone with that iCloud account, you can set it up with everything — including photos, apps, settings and passwords for email and calendars and Wi-Fi, and even details such as your alarm times.

Everything is as it was on the old one, seamlessly. That’s better than either Android or Windows Phone, the two principal contenders, which will download your apps but leave you to fill in the settings and recreate your alarms and app settings.

Agreed. I restored my review unit from the iCloud backup of my daily-use iPhone 4S, and within an hour, it was like I was picking up right where I took off. Really nice upgrade experience. (I did have to re-enter my passwords for my IMAP and Twitter accounts, though.)

Chiseled to Near Perfection 

MG Siegler:

You pick it up and it almost feels fake. That’s not to say it feels cheap; because it doesn’t — quite the opposite, actually. It just doesn’t seem real. Certainly not to someone who has been holding the iPhone 4/4S for the past two years. It feels like someone took one of those devices and hollowed it out.

MG is this week’s special guest on The Talk Show, recording later tonight. Tweet any questions you have regarding the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, and we’ll answer as many as we can.

Samsung Ad Mocks iPhone 5 Line-Waiters 

It’s corny, and they’re playing Pepsi to Apple’s Coke, but I think these are actually effective ads. The thing to keep in mind is that Samsung is not trying to convince would-be iPhone 5 buyers to change their minds. These ads are targeted at people who don’t like Apple; who already agree (with Samsung) that the iPhone 5 is a feat of marketing hype, not engineering and design savvy; and who think that iPhone line-waiters are low-IQ hipster sheep. Samsung isn’t playing for first place, they’re playing for second place — and that’s worked out well for them.

Been a Long Couple of Months 

Walt Mossberg, July 2007:

At launch, the iPhone version of the Safari browser is missing some plug-ins needed for playing common types of Web videos. The most important of these is the plug-in for Adobe’s Flash technology. Apple says it plans to add that plug-in through an early software update, which I am guessing will occur within the next couple of months.

Ars Technica: ‘Motorola Asks ITC to Ban Every Mac, iPad, and Most iPhones for Patent Infringement’ 

Motorola is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google. Shouldn’t Google be mentioned in the headline? Apple’s a big boy, and is getting only what it deserves in terms of the mobile patent war. But let’s stop pretending that Google isn’t willing to use software patents as weapons.

When Did Small Phones Become Crappy Phones? 

Sam Biddle, Gizmodo:

There was a time when you could buy something that was compact, fast, and beautiful. That time is over. “Smaller” is just a polite way to say “here’s the bad version for cheap people.” And that’s really awful.

Couldn’t agree more. I really liked last year’s Lumia 800, but ever since, Nokia has only put high-end specs into big-ass phones. The iPhone 5 is the smallest high-end phone on the market. There’s an opportunity here.

Dan Moren on iOS 6 

Comprehensive, clever, and spot-on review. Update: And a nice challenge from Macworld editor Philip Michaels.

Iconic 

Watts Martin:

This is why trade dress battles are so important to Apple. Try introducing a soda in a container that’s easily mistaken for a Coke bottle and see how far “har har har, you can’t patent curved glass!” gets you as a defense. If somebody makes a product that can be easily mistaken for an Apple device, then Apple is going to do whatever they can to get that product either off the market or changed. And this is why Josh Topolsky is wrong when he says it doesn’t matter if a reviewer fails to mention when a competitor makes a product which is clearly following Apple’s design language. This isn’t about individual features and who did what first. If a company consciously attempts to make you think is that the new Apple thing? when you look at their new thing, and you know that’s what they’re doing, it’s noteworthy. It’s noteworthy because it’s a little sleazy.

One reason why the iPhone has no indicia on its front face — no Apple logo, no “iPhone” name — is that the device itself represents the iPhone brand.

Using Maps to Improve Maps 

Scott Rafer:

What’s missing from this conversation is that map usage is critical. […] Google’s maps are going to start degrading. Apple’s will get better. They’ll meet in the middle within 18 months.

The idea is that you need to collect usage data to improve your data. The only way for Apple to get from here to there is to release what they have now and improve the data as millions of people start using it.

More on the New iOS 6 Maps App 

Waze CEO Noam Bardin, in an interview with Megan Rose Rickey at Business Insider:

Both TomTom and Waze are listed in Apple’s copyright notice as providers of map data. But Bardin’s observations suggest that Apple is relying predominantly on TomTom.

“Apple went out and partnered with the weakest player,” Bardin says. “They’re now coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and they’re competing against Google, which has the highest data set. What’s going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you’re literally not going to find things. When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.”

Tell us what you really think. (Via BGR, whose article contains an update that suggests Bardin regrets his acerbic tone.)

Who Benefits From iOS 6’s Crappy Maps? 

Anil Dash, after using the iOS 6 beta all summer:

But this time, they’re right: Apple’s made a new product that actually is pretty but dumb. Worse, they’ve used their platform dominance to privilege their own app over a competitor’s offering, even though it’s a worse experience for users. This is the new Maps in iOS 6. […]

Here in Manhattan, where I live, basic search by building names is profoundly degraded in Apple’s maps search. “Bloomberg” doesn’t find the Bloomberg Tower; on Google Maps it’s the first result. Searching for its address “731 Lexington Avenue” yields that address on Lexington Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s fine to think that perhaps I wanted the address in Bed-Stuy, but even appending “NY, NY” or “Manhattan, NY” still yields the Brooklyn address. Google maps has none of these comprehension issues.

Seems pretty clear the new Maps is going to be the biggest problem with iOS 6. Here’s the thing, though: we don’t know how much of this decision to switch was Apple’s alone. We do know that Apple’s existing contract with Google for Maps expired this year. It’s possible Apple tried to renew for another year or two and Google either refused (unlikely, I’d say) or offered to do so under terms Apple found unacceptable (possible, I’d say).

Could well just be arrogance on Apple’s part, too. Just saying, we don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for Google to release a standalone Google Maps apps in the iOS App Store, as they did already with YouTube. What if Google doesn’t ever release a Google Maps app, to paint iOS as the platform with crappy maps?

Anil is right about the bottom line though: the maps experience in iOS 6 is a downgrade. Users shouldn’t (and won’t) give a rip about behind the scenes negotiations.

Hands on With iOS 6: Installation 

Upgrade tips and suggestions from Serenity Caldwell at Macworld.

HTC Introduces Windows Phone 8X and 8S 

Not sure how HTC has fallen so far behind. Aesthetically, I like their phone designs much more than I do Samsung’s. Interesting too, that these Windows phones from HTC don’t bear much resemblance to their Android ones. If anything, with the bold colors, they more resemble Nokia’s. They even announced some pricing information: $199 for the high-end 8X on AT&T and T-Mobile.

iPhone 5 and iOS 6 SunSpider Performance 

A big part of this score is the A6 CPU, but iOS 6 plays a part. They’ve got the iPhone 4S listed at 2,250, but when I run the SunSpider benchmark on mine (which I’ve already upgraded to the iOS 6 GM build), I get scores around 1,800. (Lower is better in SunSpider.)

Still Swinging That Club 

Regarding the Google/Acer/Alibaba saga, remember this?

Android phones must adhere to a “compatibility” standard determined by Google. In an e-mail on Aug. 6, 2010, Dan Morrill, a manager in the Android group, noted in passing that it was obvious to the phone makers that “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.”

Speaking of Developing for Android First, Some Really Are 

Robert Scoble:

Maluuba isn’t the only company that has told me that iOS is behind. Glympse’s CEO, Bryan Trussel, told me his team develops its contextual mapping app on Android first, then moves it to iPhone.

Why is this? A few reasons:

  1. Android lets developers have access to the dialer so that app developers can watch who calls you and who you call.
  2. Android lets developers look at the wifi and bluetooth radios on the phone so app developers can build better systems to track where you are, who you are near, and whether you are near things like your car.
  3. Android lets developers ship and test without waiting up to three weeks to have their apps approved.

No surprise that two out of three of those are creepy.

Updated Netflix App for iPhone 

Netflix:

The new Netflix experience is available for iPhone and iPod Touch devices using iOS v5.0 and above. Download the new Netflix iPhone experience today in the App Store.

We will soon release an optimized version of this new experience for iPhone 5 to take advantage of the larger screen.

I do like the new UI, but not supporting the 16:9 iPhone 5 display is weak sauce. If anything, video-playing apps are the ones that will most benefit from the new display.

For our members on Android phones, please stay tuned. We will be releasing a new Netflix experience for Android phones soon!

So I guess Fred Wilson isn’t an investor in Netflix?

Jonathan Ive to Design a Single Uber-Limited Edition Leica M 

Michael Zhang, writing for PetaPixel:

At Leica’s special event last night, after the new Leica M was announced, company owner Dr. Andreas Kaufmann revealed that they’ve got a very special limited edition version of the camera planned — one that’s designed by legendary Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive.

This camera will be the mother of all limited editions based on one simple fact: only a single unit of the camera will ever be produced.

I hope I get a review unit.

Interesting Background on the Apple-Designed A6 CPU 

Linley Gwennap:

At this point, Apple has spent about $400 million to buy PA Semi and Intrinsity, tens of millions for a license to design its own ARM CPUs, and probably north of $100 million to support its CPU design efforts over the past four years. It appears that the end result will be that Apple ships a Cortex-A15-class CPU about three months before arch-enemy Samsung does. These three months happen to come during the big holiday buying season, during which the iPhone 5 could generate $25 billion in revenue. So that half billion dollars could be money well spent.

As I wrote after the introduction of the original iPad in 2010, Apple is to the post-PC era what Microsoft and Intel combined were in the PC era.

Updated Twitter for iPhone, Too 

No mention of support for the new iPhone 5 display size in the release notes or this blog post.

Update: Looks like I’d have won that bet. David Smith:

It definitely doesn’t support 16:9. The bundle lacks the necessary Default-568h@2x.png file needed to avoid letterboxing.

New Twitter for iPad 

They threw away Loren Brichter’s groundbreaking UI and replaced it with a timeline where you can’t tap anything — URLs, usernames, hash tags, images. Instead, you have to tap to “open” the tweet first. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Twitter client in which you couldn’t tap URLs from the timeline.

Update: Was this designed to make it easy to have a “consistent” tablet experience with Twitter for Android?

Josh Topolsky:

I mean let me be perfectly clear: the previous Twitter for iPad was one of the apps you used to show off the iPad. It was awesome.

Dustin Curtis:

The new Twitter for iPad is a design disaster. It perfectly showcases the wrong way to pursue cross-platform consistency.

Om Malik:

Question to all @twitter employees: how many of you will secretly use @Tweetbot iPad app instead of this pig of an update on Twitter iPad?

Apple Avoids the Temptation of Jetpack Design 

Fuck Jet Packs:

As product designers, we could learn a thing or two from the way Apple ships “boring”, “passé”, “me-too” features once a year, like clockwork, and “makes them look pretty”.

Internet Archive Amasses All TV News Since 2009 

Bill Carter, reporting for the NYT:

Inspired by a pillar of antiquity, the Library of Alexandria, Brewster Kahle has a grand vision for the Internet Archive, the giant aggregator and digitizer of data, which he founded and leads. “We want to collect all the books, music and video that has ever been produced by humans,” Mr. Kahle said.

As of Tuesday, the archive’s online collection will include every morsel of news produced in the last three years by 20 different channels, encompassing more than 1,000 news series that have generated more than 350,000 separate programs devoted to news.

The Internet Archive is an amazing resource.

USA Today Redesigns 

I agree (as usual) with Armin Vit — this is a very well-done redesign. Not sure about the apostrophes and commas in Futura Today (their custom version of Futura), though.

More on Google’s Nik Software Acquisition 

Trey Ratcliff:

Most of the silicon-valley-bubble-press probably does not know much about Nik Software, and doesn’t realize that this is a company built by and for professional photographers. Even though their software is designed for “pros”, I’m confident in saying that 90% of their customers are amateurs who are using these same tools to make them look like pros! Nik makes amazing tools, and I am really looking forward to seeing them bleed into my daily life of using Google+.

Looks like Google might be getting serious about photography.

‘Mixed Response’ 

Kim Yoo-chul, reporting for The Korea Times (seizure warning on the blinking ads):

Samsung Electronics plans to unveil the latest in its Galaxy line, the S4, at a European technology exhibition in February, according to company officials and local parts suppliers for the technology giant.

The timetable was released just three days after rival Apple introduced the iPhone 5, which has received a mixed response from industry experts and consumers as it is seemingly lacking in innovative features.

Two million pre-orders in 24 hours doesn’t seem like a mixed response from consumers to me. Wonder how mixed the response will be outside Apple Stores Friday morning?

James Rivington on Apple’s New EarPods 

James Rivington:

There is no doubt that the EarPods are an improvement over Apple’s original bundled earphones. […]

But for anyone thinking of buying these things separately for £25/$30 — forget it. That price is utterly ludicrous. For that money you could bag yourself a decent pair of Sennheisers — low end ones admittedly — but they would still be head and shoulders better than the Apple EarPods. In fact, we challenge you to find a pair of £25 earphones on Amazon that sound worse than this — you won’t be able to.

Via Ryan McBride, who poked me on Twitter last night with the following:

There’s a bunch of terrible reviews out for Apple’s EarPods. Not sure why @gruber published the only two positive ones.

If even the “terrible” reviews declare that the new EarPods are a clear improvement over Apple’s previous earphones, I think that’s pretty good. Are they worth $29 on their own? That’s a good question, and Rivington, for one, clearly thinks not.

Update: Via Brian Behrend on Twitter, the cheapest Sennheisers on Amazon with volume controls and a microphone cost $40. EarPods do more than just play audio.

Microsoft: ‘Microsoft Signs Licensing Agreement With Research in Motion’ 

For the exFAT file system.

This deal solves all of Microsoft’s and RIM’s problems in the mobile space. All set now.

How AT&T Paid Andy Zaky $173.82 to Switch to Verizon 

Andy Zaky:

So essentially, what AT&T told me today was that I can stay at AT&T and pay $500.00 to upgrade two of our iPhone 4S’s to iPhone 5’s, OR I can leave AT&T pay $320 and then get the iPhone 5’s for the normal $199 price elsewhere. AT&T more or less told me that they would pay me $180.00 to go to Verizon.

I’ve gotten email from a few DF readers with similar stories.

What Is the One True Android and How ‘Open’ Is It? 

Danny Sullivan:

It’s time for Google to give the Android Open Source Project a new name, I’d say, and end this confusion.

One model here might be a similar but different sounding name. Google uses the Chromium name for its open source browser project. That’s separate and distinct from the Google Chrome browser that Google itself controls.

‘Boring’ 

The gaping chasm between the tech press’s reactions to new iOS devices and those of actual consumers is growing, not closing. At this point it’s getting absurd. Read these excerpts collected by Harry Marks and try to square them with the record-breaking pre-orders over the weekend.

Update: To be clear, I’m in no way arguing that mass market popularity should necessarily correlate with critical response. The best movies each year seldom make the most money; the movies that make the most money are seldom the best artistically. Transformers 3 made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office but was rightfully panned by critics. Just because many people paid to see it (or even enjoyed it) doesn’t mean it was a good movie. But that’s the thing with the “boring” tag being applied to the iPhone 5. These critics aren’t saying it’s a bad phone. They’re just complaining that, what?, it was predictable? That it’s what everyone expected?

Fission 2 

Major update to Rogue Amoeba’s excellent audio editing app for the Mac.

iMessage Service Goes Down for Many iPhone Users 

Matthew Panzarino:

We’ve been getting reports this morning from tipsters that Apple’s iMessage service is down. These reports seem to be backed up by searches on Twitter which show hundreds of angry customers posting messages every minute.

This, after an iCloud email outage that affected about one percent of users.

Comments Are the Radioactive Waste of the Web 

Mic Wright:

One national newspaper section editor proposed a thought experiment to me recently: what if newspapers printed comments along side the hard copy versions of their stories? His belief was that comments would be gone within weeks, the sheer insanity of them poisoning the well when placed in such a prominent position.

Which in turn shows that newspaper editors consider their websites second-class citizens.

iPhone 5 Benchmarks Appear in Geekbench 

Arnold Kim:

The total Geekbench 2 score comes in at 1601. Poole notes that the average score for the iPhone 4S is 629 and the average score for the iPad 3 is 766. A comparison chart of previous iOS devices can be viewed at Geekbench. The numbers seem to validate Apple’s claim that the A6 processor is twice as fast as the A5 and any previous iOS device.

For reference, that’s a higher score than any PowerBook Apple ever shipped — looks like PowerPC laptops maxed out at just under 1000.

Google Buys Developer of ‘Snapseed’, Apple’s 2011 iPad App of the Year 

Will be interesting to see what happens to their iOS apps. Snapseed really is a great app.

Update: Nik Software announced an Android version of Snapseed back in January, but it apparently still hasn’t shipped.

R. Matthew Ward on the EarPods 

Another positive review:

For this style of headphones, at this price, Apple’s EarPods are impressive, and in my initial testing they appear to be a fantastic upgrade over the previous model. In my experience reviewing headphones, I’ve found that good headphones enhance the listening experience, while bad ones get in the way of it. The previous Apple earbuds got in the way; the EarPods instead fit right in the center of that range — not enhancing the listening experience, but not detracting from it, either.

Dave Hamilton on Apple’s New EarPods 

Dave Hamilton:

For casual listening, talking on the phone, and certainly that day at the beach where you want to hear everyone around you while grooving to your tunes, Apple’s EarPods are perfect. My guess is the EarPods work just fine for far more people than their predecessors did, and that’s a good thing.

They really do fit better.

Lightning: The iPhone’s New Connector 

Good piece by Dan Frakes on Apple’s new connector.

iPhone 5 Pre-Orders Top Two Million in First 24 Hours 

Apple:

Apple today announced pre-orders of its iPhone 5 topped two million in just 24 hours, more than double the previous record of one million held by iPhone 4S. Demand for iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders will be delivered to customers on September 21, many are scheduled to be delivered in October.

Good thing no one’s excited about it, or Apple would have a real problem.

Google and Alibaba Continue Warring Over Acer Phone 

I’m running low on popcorn.

AnandTech: The iPhone 5’s A6 SoC: Not A15 or A9, a Custom Apple Core Instead 

Great find from the inimitable Anand Lal Shimpi:

The A6 is the first Apple SoC to use its own ARMv7 based processor design. The CPU core(s) aren’t based on a vanilla A9 or A15 design from ARM IP, but instead are something of Apple’s own creation.

It’s only twice as fast as last year’s A5.

I Agree With Rick Santorum 

Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed:

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum attacked the media and “smart people” for not being on the side of conservatives in a speech to the Values Voter Summit on Saturday.

“We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country,” Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told the audience at the Omni Shoreham hotel. “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”

Marissa Mayer Institutes Smartphone Program for Employees 

Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider:

Through the program, Yahoo employees will have a choice of phones: iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, HTC EVO 4G LTE, or Nokia Lumia 920. Yahoo is also going to pay its employees data and phone bills. Yahoo is also going to discontinue IT support for Blackberry phones.

I’d be curious to see the breakdown of which phones employees choose. I have a guess which one Mayer will use.

Metakine Mac App Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate and long-time indie Mac developer Metakine for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Metakine Mac App Bundle. Metakine is offering its entire app portfolio for just $39.99 — a discount of $275.

The bundle includes: Mac DVDRipper Pro and DVDRemaster, great apps for copying and transcoding video to all of your devices; HandsOff, a powerful security and privacy tool that monitors your network connections; Aurora, a versatile alarm clock app; Processes, a system monitoring utility; Back In Focus, an image sharpening tool for improving blurry photos; and four more apps.

Act now: it’s a great deal, and the bundle is on sale only through the end of this weekend.

‘EpiPens All Over the House’ 

Speaking of Mule Radio podcasts and my wife’s charity fundraising, Amy is on this week’s episode of Salt & Fat with my pal Jim Ray, and somehow they made talking about kids with food allergies pretty funny. (Here’s the link to her fund drive, and it’s perhaps worth mentioning that FAAN is a non-profit 501(c)(3), so it qualifies if your employer has a charitable matching program.)

Why the iPhone 5 on Verizon and Sprint Won’t Juggle Calls and Data 

Brian X. Chen:

So why does Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S III, a 4G LTE phone, juggle calls and data? Samsung added an extra antenna so that it pulls data from the 4G LTE network at the same time that it’s using another antenna to do voice, said Anand Shimpi, editor in chief of AnandTech.

Then why didn’t Apple add another antenna? Its phone already has two antennas in an effort to improve reception, and it would have had to add a third antenna just for Verizon and Sprint phones to give them simultaneous data and calls, Mr. Shimpi explained. Leaving that third antenna out allows Apple to simplify the process of manufacturing the iPhone for multiple carriers. Plus, in the next two years, 4G LTE technology is supposed to evolve to support voice calls, which would render another antenna unnecessary.

This is unfortunate, but it’s not going to keep me from switching to Verizon with my upgrade to the iPhone 5. I know some people use this feature, because I hear from them every time I write that it’s no big deal, but for me personally, I can’t remember ever wanting to use data while on a phone call. I just don’t make that many phone calls, for one thing. For another, the limitation only applies to cellular data — Wi-Fi works during phone calls on all iPhones.

(Also keep in mind that it’s not like the situation with the original EDGE iPhone, where, when you were using data, if you got a phone call it would go straight to voice mail. With Verizon and Sprint CDMA, an incoming phone call will interrupt your data stream and ring.)

Acer Cancels Smartphone Launch With Alibaba at Last Minute 

Reuters:

Acer and Alibaba’s cloud computing unit had planned to launch the Acer CloudMobile A800 smartphone, using Alibaba’s mobile operating system, Aliyun, in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon. But when journalists showed up for the event they were not allowed to enter the venue and an Alibaba Cloud Computing official said the launch had been canceled due to internal reasons.

Later, Alibaba’s unit released a statement saying Acer had faced pressure from Google and pulled out of the launch event.

“Our partner received notification from Google that if the new product launch with Aliyun went ahead, Google would terminate Android product cooperation and related technical authorization with Acer,” Alibaba Cloud Computing said in a statement.

Open always wins. Don’t be evil.

Going Forward 

From now on I’m going to watch more of David Mitchell’s work.

Why Apple’s Events Matter 

Marc Ambinder:

So many other companies make their decisions about product announcements based not on what Apple might actually offer but when they might offer it. This suggests to me that, even in this marketplace, Apple’s actual power exceeds its marketplace share.

Which iPhone 5 for a Global Traveller? 

Nice piece by Duncan Davidson examining the international roaming implications for the iPhone 5 from each of the U.S. carriers. See also: Glenn Fleishman at TidBITS.

The Register: ‘The iPhone 5 Undermines Western Democracy’ 

When I said that the aforelinked Dan Lyons piece was the most foolish thing I’d seen all week, know that there was stiff competition. These guys are still harping on removable batteries and memory card slots.

Not Exciting at All 

So after a few months of writing nowhere (not sure what happened to his Newsweek/Daily Beast gig), Dan Lyons popped up Wednesday with a piece for the BBC News trashing the iPhone 5. The whole thing is just preposterously trollish — e.g. “Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming”; “This is what happens when a company is too cheap to invest in research and development”, or the fact that he wrote the whole thing before the iPhone 5 was even, you know, announced. But the crazy part, the part that really makes it a head-scratcher that the BBC News, of all sites, would run it, is the headline: “Apple’s iPhone Launches No Longer Excite”.

Do you want to count the number of news stories about the iPhone 5 over the past three days? Pre-orders that started at 3 in the morning on the U.S. east coast went so fast that the ship date moved to “two weeks” in just one hour. There are all sorts of subjective arguments we can have regarding the iPhone 5. But one thing is inarguable, a cold hard simple fact: millions of people around the world are excited to buy one. To argue that this iPhone announcement did not excite people is the most foolish thing I’ve seen all week.

iPhone 5 Panel at TechCrunch Disrupt 

Short but sweet panel recorded at TechCrunch Disrupt Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after Apple’s iPhone 5/music event. On stage: Engadget chief Tim Stevens, Jason Snell, MG Siegler, Jim Dalrymple, and yours truly.

Decode DC: ‘House of (mis)Representatives’ 

New on Mule Radio Syndicate: Decode DC, a national affairs show hosted by Andrea Seabrook. Shit’s getting serious on Mule Radio — production values on this show are off the chart.

‘Clearly’ 

Brian X. Chen, writing for Bits:

“N.F.C. employs lower-frequency operation than cellular, requiring a longer antenna,” Mr. Strauss said. “That antenna is often wrapped around the battery in some cellphones, but a metal back shields any radio waves from reaching a nearby data terminal. Only plastic, Kevlar or similar backings will allow the radio connection for mobile payments. Clearly, Apple chose beauty over functionality with its aluminum back.”

Couldn’t just be Apple doesn’t think NFC is actually useful in the real world yet.

‘Ultimately’ 

Take your time, HP:

“We are working on this,” Ms. Whitman told Fox Business Network in an interview. “We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device…we are a computing company.”

When asked if the company was considering buying all or part of troubled BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. (RIMM), she said, “No, that is not a direction that we’re going to head.”

Maybe they should buy Palm.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network Charity Walk 

Amy Gruber:

As many of you know, my son, Jonas, has an anaphylactic dairy allergy. We have been dealing with Jonas’s allergy since he was about 11 months old. I’ve got it down to a science. Remember how your grandfather would pull a quarter out from behind your ear? I could do that right now with an EpiPen. I’m the David Copperfield of epinephrine. And benadryl? It’s in every cabinet. I never leave the house without it. I’m confident in my anaphylactic shock-preventing capabilities. Do you know that restaurants brush butter on practically everything you order? I do, because I’m a dairy ninja.

My wife is raising money for a charity that means a lot to our family. DF readers have been wonderfully generous the last two years with this, and it would mean a lot to me if you were again. Thanks.

(And a special bonus offer. As a reward for being the top fundraiser last year, FAAN gave us four one-day passes to Walt Disney World in Orlando. We don’t want to take anything from this, so we’re going to give those passes to a randomly-selected person who donates to Amy’s walk this year. Any dollar amount.)

‘Big in Indonesia’ 

Special guest Om Malik joins me on this week’s episode of The Talk Show, recorded yesterday afternoon from the cozy Mule Radio studio in San Francisco. You know what we talked about.

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The Turn, Not the Prestige 

MG Siegler:

That’s the thing — when people say they’re disappointed about the new iPhone, what they’re really saying is that they’re disappointed it doesn’t look that much different from previous version(s). But again, not only is that true, Apple went out of their way to make sure that was the case.

Great piece.

This Is (Still) How Apple Rolls 

This piece I wrote for Macworld two years ago comes to mind when I read things like this and this. Wrote I:

The iPhone is following the same pattern. In 2007 it debuted with no third-party apps, no 3G networking, and a maximum storage capacity of 8GB. One year later, Apple had doubled storage, added 3G and GPS, and opened the App Store. The year after that, Apple swapped in a faster processor, added a compass and an improved camera, and doubled storage again. The pattern repeats. We may never see an iPhone that utterly blows away the prior year’s, but we’ll soon have one that utterly blows away the original iPhone.

Watch Yesterday’s Apple Event 

They do know how to put on a show.

Apple Officially Killing Ping Social Network on September 30 

Know when to fold ’em.

Why Does Apple Announce iPhone Pricing and Availability but Other Phone Makers Don’t? 

Dan Frommer:

It just makes sense to announce pricing and ship dates as soon as they’re known. So why don’t all companies do this?

I did some research, and here’s what I came up with.

iPhone 5 Tech Specs vs. the Competition 

Apple doesn’t really play the tech spec comparison matrix game, but even so, the iPhone 5 stacks up well.

Phil Schiller on Why the iPhone 5 Has a New Dock Connector, But No Wireless Charging or NFC 

Interview with Ina Fried:

As for why the company is changing the dock connector that has been on nearly all iPhones and iPods since 2003, Schiller said it simply wasn’t possible to build products as thin as the new iPhones and iPods without changing the cord. Hence, the new “Lightning” connector.

I’m surprised the old dock connector lasted as long as it did. It always struck me as ugly and un-Apple-like.

Daring Fireball-Flavored Claim Chowder 

Yours truly, a year ago:

Bigger is not necessarily better. Apple decided on the optimal size for an iPhone display back in 2006. If they thought 4-inches was better, overall, as the one true size for the iPhone display, then the original iPhone would have had a 4-inch display.

‘Why the Next iPhone Won’t Be 16:9’ 

Some Gizmodo-flavored claim chowder from May.

WSJ: ‘Backers Tout Firefox OS as Open Mobile Option’ 

Don Clark, writing for WSJ Digits:

The non-profit foundation hosted an event for reporters in San Francisco Thursday with one of its supporters–the Spanish telecommunications company Telefonicato give an update on plans for an operating system called Firefox OS. They see it as a more open alternative to Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android software, the dominant choices in smartphones. […]

“Rather than build things in secret, we tell the world what we are going to do and invite participation,” said Gary Kovacs, Mozilla’s CEO. “It is the exact inverse of the traditional model.” […]

Some of the first handsets using Firefox OS should appear next year, the companies said.

Allow me to append to my year-ago quip: Open beats closed, every time. Except when discussing money or ship dates.

The Difference Between Apple and Amazon in One Chart 

Dan Frommer:

Apple and Amazon are both in the business of designing small computers - tablets, ereaders, phones, media players - and selling them to the public. But how they do it is the big difference. And that’s best depicted by the astonishing difference in the two companies’ profits.

Apple’s P/E: 15.86
Amazon’s P/E: 315.95

OS X Battery Life Analysis From Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion 

Great analysis by Jim Tanuous at The Mac Observer, benchmarking the battery life of the last few years worth of versions of OS X. 10.8.0 was a significant regression — as noted by many — but it looks like the upcoming 10.8.2 update will set things right.

RIM’s Death Spiral 

Analyst James Faucette, in a statement to AllThingsD:

“In terms of sell-through, we believe that current run rates are roughly one-fifth of those we saw in the United States just eight months ago. Further, we found a meaningful number of carrier retail locations which had not sold a single BlackBerry in over a month.”

That’s flop-sweat, crickets-chirping territory.

The Skeuomorphism Rift Within Apple 

Austin Carr, reporting for Fast Company:

Inside Apple, tension has brewed for years over the issue. Apple iOS SVP Scott Forstall is said to push for skeuomorphic design, while industrial designer Jony Ive and other Apple higher-ups are said to oppose the direction. “You could tell who did the product based on how much glitz was in the UI,” says one source intimately familiar with Apple’s design process.

I’ve heard much the same. There is an internal political divide regarding these skeuomorphic interfaces.

But before Forstall, it was Steve Jobs who encouraged the skeuomorphic approach, some say. “iCal’s leather-stitching was literally based on a texture in his Gulfstream jet,” says the former senior UI designer. “There was lots of internal email among UI designers at Apple saying this was just embarrassing, just terrible.”

iCal/Calendar is perhaps the epicenter of this debate. Someone inside Apple must actually like the Calendar app for Mac and iPad. And it’s not just what it looks like — the stitched leather, torn paper remnants, etc. — it’s how it works. Then there’s the iPhone version, which doesn’t sport any of the skeuomorphic chrome — and is actually a very nice-to-use app.

It’s the difference between a fad and true style. I think Apple’s skeuomorphic designs are a fad, much like the pinstripes and brushed metal of a decade ago.

Google Releases YouTube App for iPhone and iPod Touch 

Andrey Doronichev, head of YouTube mobile:

For all you diehard YouTube fans out there who can’t get enough YouTube on your mobile, we’ve got some great news: starting today, you can download the official YouTube app for iPhone and iPod touch from the App Store, bringing you more of the videos you love and more ways to share them with the people you care about.

The YouTube app that has been built into iOS since the original iPhone is not present in iOS 6, so this announcement was well-timed. Looks like a good app, with Google’s iOS UI style. Given that this new YouTube app from Google shows ads, and Apple’s old YouTube app did not, my hunch is that the decision to part ways was mutual.

Next up: Maps?

Peter Bright: ‘Where Oh Where Is Windows Phone 8?’ 

Peter Bright, Ars Technica:

But what was a little surprising is that there were no handsets for the press to play with. There were some demonstration units carefully attended by PR personnel, and while we were able to get kind of close to them, the general rule was “you can look but you can’t touch.” This isn’t unprecedented, but it’s a little unusual for such a high-priority smartphone launch. Touching the phones, seeing how they feel in the hand, checking that their UI is nice and fast, these are all important parts of a smartphone launch.

The problem Nokia has appears to be not so much its hardware; it’s the software. Windows Phone 8 isn’t done yet. Not only is Windows Phone 8 not done, it’s not even public yet.

Hence the faked sample video and photos. The hell of it is, the Lumia 920 camera does seem to work remarkably well in low light situations. But the software’s not done for it to shoot video.

This seems like a disaster in the making for Nokia.

A Memory Hole 

Kontra is a phlegmatic man.

Tracking Down the UDID Breach Source 

Great digital detective story from David Schuetz, the clever guy who tracked the UDID breach back to app developer Blue Toad.

‘HP Introduces New Apple iMac’ 

See, now this is how you do it. But: look at the comments.

Bill Moggridge, Designer of First Laptop Computer, Dead at 69 

One of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand today.

Na-Na, Fingers in Our Ears, Can’t Hear You 

Marco Arment:

Big “gadget” blogs depend on maintaining very friendly relationships with the companies whose products they cover so they can continue to get exclusives, interviews, press badges to events, and early access to products.

My theory is that it’s not about access; it’s about not pissing off the vocal anti-Apple contingent of their readerships. Those who claim to truly believe the iPhone is just a black rectangle with round corners. That all these new PC laptops and desktops (and keyboards, and mice, and trackpads) look alike not because they’re all aping Apple’s designs, but simply because these are the natural ways for these things to have evolved, and maybe Apple sort of kind of arguably got there first in a few instances, that’s all. Apple didn’t invent aluminum or glass.

UDID, or FUDID? 

Joel Housman flags some specious fear-mongering in NBC News’s scoop on the source of those leaked UDIDs:

When matched with other information, the UDID can be used to track users’ app usage, social media usage or location. It could also be used to “push” potentially dangerous applications onto users’ Apple gadgets.

The way this paragraph is written, it would leave the average reader to believe that any of the leaked 12 million UDIDs could be used to push malware onto the respective iOS devices they belong to. This is a blatant lie.

I’m Not Sure What’s More Ridiculous 

The extent to which other companies are shamelessly copying Apple’s hardware designs, or the contortions the “neutral” tech press will twist itself into to avoid calling a spade a spade.

NBC News Reveals Actual Source of Apple Device IDs Leaked by Anonymous Last Week 

Kerry Sanders and Bob Sullivan, reporting for NBC News:

Paul DeHart, CEO of the Blue Toad publishing company, told NBC News that technicians at his firm downloaded the data released by Anonymous and compared it to the company’s own database. The analysis found a 98 percent correlation between the two datasets.

“That’s 100 percent confidence level, it’s our data,” DeHart said. “As soon as we found out we were involved and victimized, we approached the appropriate law enforcement officials, and we began to take steps to come forward, clear the record and take responsibility for this.” […]

“I had no idea the impact this would ultimately cause,” DeHart continued. “We’re pretty apologetic to the people who relied on us to keep this information secure.”

So the FBI angle was just bullshit to garner attention, apparently.

See also: Statement from Blue Toad.

The L-Word and the Kindle Fire HD 

You know it’s laggy when the guy from Droid Life thinks it’s laggy.

Tricia Duryee Interviews Jeff Bezos 

“We treat Android like Linux, and so it’s a base operating system layer.” Interesting insight on pricing, too.

Twitter Reportedly Discontinuing Development of Its Mac Client 

MG Siegler, on Twitter:

Word is that Twitter made the call today: Twitter for Mac is done. They won’t kill it outright, but no further updates. Goodbye, old friend.

I’ve heard the same thing. Worst part is, they may even have a retina-ready update ready to release — but they’re just going to keep it in their pocket out of spite. They want people to use the website.

LayerVault 

My thanks to LayerVault for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. LayerVault is a simple but powerful concept: version control for designers. With LayerVault, every time you save a PSD or AI file, it archives a version of your file that’s available to download. That’s just the beginning. It’s a way both to share and protect your work. And it’s simple. No complicated setup. No command line. Just one simple app to install and that’s it.

Take their tour and see how simple it really is. They’ve got plans to suit teams of any size, and if you use the coupon code “FIREBALLED”, you’ll save 10 percent off your first three months.

Jeff Bezos’s ‘Upgrade Treadmill’ 

Glenn Fleishman, writing for TidBITS:

To the first point, the upgrade treadmill, that hits home much more closely to the Android ecosystem, which has multiple manufacturers producing new models seemingly monthly, even though the new models often run older versions of Android that lack marquee features, and older models are often incapable of being upgraded after even a single version release.

Apple, by contrast, has a three-to-five year window of support for older equipment (iCloud compatibility aside!).

‘The Secret Race’ 

Christopher Keyes, writing for Outside on Lance Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton’s doping exposé, The Secret Race:

Here’s the reality: The Secret Race isn’t just a game changer for the Lance Armstrong myth. It’s the game ender. No one can read this book with an open mind and still credibly believe that Armstrong didn’t dope. It’s impossible. That doesn’t change the fact that he survived cancer and helped millions of people through Livestrong, but the myth of the clean-racing hero who came back from the dead is, well, dead.

Kindle Fire Ads Can’t Be Turned Off 

John Moltz:

Barf.

Wait, that wasn’t emphatic enough.

BARRRRRRRF.

Makes me queasy too, but maybe they can pull it off in a non-intrusive way? Seems like they have with the e-ink Kindles.

Lab126 Job Openings 

Remember a few days ago, when a single job opening for an “Industrial Designer” at Valve led to articles stating that Valve was “getting serious about hardware”? You know who seems to be getting serious about hardware to me? Amazon. Their Lab126 hardware division has over 200 job openings.

Interesting, too, that many of them are located in Cupertino.

Nice Seats 

A very handsome man attended last night’s Washington Nationals game.

‘The Moltzphone EXTREMO III DX’ 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, in which I’m joined by very special guest John Moltz. We discuss discuss the new phones from Motorola and Nokia, next week’s Apple event where the iPhone 5 is expected to be introduced, the Chinese phone maker that has already shipped an iPhone 5 knockoff, and the world’s worst ex-girlfriend.

Brought to you by two outstanding sponsors:

  • Drafts — An elegant, efficient note-taking app for the iPhone and iPad (with a slew of clever Markdown-focused features). Great app.

  • Frank & Oak — stylish, affordable menswear and accessories, with free at-home try-on. It’s easy to shop and you’ll look handsome.

Nokia Did Not Need This 

Brian X. Chen, writing for Bits:

The company has since amended the videos to include a disclaimer. Stephen Elop, the company’s chief executive, has asked the company’s chief ethics officer to look into the matter, according to a Nokia executive who declined to be named.

Their fraudulent camera demos have gotten far more publicity than the phones themselves. This is a disaster for Nokia.

Jackass of the Day: Andrew Couts 

Andrew Couts, writing for Digital Trends:

No — what I really want to see from Apple is something so mind-blowing, so thunderously outrageous, that it would send shockwaves around the globe and immediately earn a place in the history books.

I want to see Apple announce absolutely nothing.

Is there a school somewhere that teaches you how to write these sort of willfully stupid articles about Apple?

Microsoft and Flash Player Security Updates 

Ed Bott:

If you use Windows 7 (or earlier) with any modern browser and you’ve enabled automatic updates, you already have the latest Flash security fixes. Ditto if you use a Mac.

But if you’re using Internet Explorer 10 on any version of Windows 8, including the RTM bits available via MSDN or TechNet and the enterprise preview, you are at risk. You cannot manually update the version of Flash baked into IE 10. Only Microsoft can do that. Microsoft made a bold design decision with Internet Explorer in Windows 8, adding Adobe’s Flash Player to the browser as a built-in component instead of a third-party plugin. That design echoes Google’s decision long ago to include Flash Player in every version of Chrome. The advantage of this design for Microsoft is that it enables playback of Flash content in the otherwise-plugin-free Windows 8 browser. The bad news is that it adds a bottleneck between Adobe’s updates and browser users.

The solution is obvious.

Which Kindle? 

Marco Arment:

My recommendation: if you’re itching to preorder one of the new Kindles and absolutely can’t wait until the reviews are out, go with the Paperwhite Wi-Fi with ads.

Hard to argue with his logic. My two-year-old Kindle Keyboard has 3G, but I can’t remember ever needing it.

Some details that appeal to me about the Paperwhite: the higher-resolution screen and the new fonts (including Baskerville and Palatino). Update: But, bizarrely, they include Futura — a typeface I love but which does not make for a good long-form text face.

Or, Maybe They Will 

Roger Cheng and Steven Musil, reporting for CNet six days ago, “Kindle Fire Won’t Go Big to Take on iPad”:

Amazon plans to double down on the 7-inch tablet market with two new Kindle Fire models, CNET has learned.

Despite speculation that Amazon was preparing a larger 8.9 or 10-inch version, the company will only unveil a new 7-inch Kindle Fire and a slightly revamped version of the original tablet in an event scheduled for next week, according to a person who has seen the products.

Amazon, today:

Stunning 8.9" HD display, exclusive Dolby audio, and fastest Wi-Fi

Or, Maybe Not 

Headline from Nilay Patel at The Verge last night: “Exclusive: Amazon Phone Confirmed, Could Be Announced Tomorrow”. It’s the “Exclusive” that, as they say, really ties the room together.

Which iPhones Survive After September 12? 

The More/Real weblog speculates on Apple’s post-iPhone-5 phone lineup:

On the 12th, Apple will presumably start selling an iPhone 5 that would most likely take over the iPhone 4S’ position in the lineup. The 3GS will almost certainly be killed on the 12th. It was introduced in 2009, has been in service for three and a half years and has done its job well.

I wouldn’t count the 3GS out. I presume it will indeed lose its spot as the free-with-contract phone in the lineup, to be replaced by the iPhone 4, and the 4S will take over the $99-with-contract spot. But what about the low-cost prepaid market? If Apple wants to start taking market share in that market, my guess is they’ll do it with the 3GS.

That’s a lower-margin market than what Apple typically targets, but otherwise, they’re ceding it to Android. In the PC market, Apple ceded the low-cost segment to Windows, so perhaps they’re willing to do the same thing with phones. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Bill Clinton’s Speech Last Night at the Democratic National Convention 

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Well-written (by Clinton himself), and just incredibly well-delivered. Remarkably, Clinton ad-libbed significant portions. (And speaking of great public speakers, Steve Jobs’s wife Laurene Powell Jobs was in attendance, sitting with Chelsea Clinton.)

Nokia Faked the Lumia 920 Still Photos Too 

Youssef Sarhan:

It’s impossible for a camera with a fixed aperture of f/2 to generate so many spikes from a light source. These kind of diffractions are typical of a DLSR camera with a smaller aperture like f/22. So, it makes perfect sense that if Nokia were to fake the video, they would also fake the stills; which they almost certainly have.

Shameful.

Fortune: Apple Is the 8th Fastest-Growing Company in the World 

This sort of growth has to end at some point. But when? (Via Cult of Mac.)

Om Malik: ‘Dell and HP Together on a Long Road to Nowhere’ 

Om Malik:

They are tied at the hip with Microsoft and its operating systems and as a result they cannot look beyond Microsoft. The fact is that both Dell and HP have offered consumers pretty much nothing in terms of innovation when it comes to PCs. Compare that with Apple and Samsung and you start to see that these two PC giants have been essentially twiddling their thumbs.

Dell and HP have rendered themselves irrelevant.

Amazon’s Kindle Event 

Now this is how you do a product announcement event: product demos, prices, ship dates. Really impressive stuff at extremely aggressive prices.

Windows Phone’s Canary in the Coal Mine 

Charlie Kindel, writing for Geekwire yesterday:

A human salesperson, acting 1:1 with a customer is an extremely powerful force. In the mobile phone space, particularly in the US, phones are purchased from carriers. It is the retail sales people (RSPs in industry jargon) in the carriers’ stores who interact with the people who wish to buy a new phone. More often than not, the final decision on what phone to buy is made based on what the RSP is pushing.

It does not matter how good a product is; if it is not marketed, assorted, and SOLD, consumers will not buy it. They WILL buy the alternative they’ve heard more about, is highlighted in the store, and is being pushed on them by a salesperson.

Apple countered this in a few ways. First, when the iPhone shipped in 2007, Apple had already developed a legion of fans from the iPod and Mac — fans who would have lined up to buy it on day one no matter what the salespeople at AT&T had to say about the thing. But second, they had a symbiotic relations with AT&T — Apple needed a major U.S. carrier partner, and AT&T needed a competitive advantage against Verizon. Both got what they wanted.

Nokia has no such fan base and not much to offer the carriers.

(Via this thread on Branch, where the consensus seems unanimous that the lack of pricing and the fact that the software is unfinished bode poorly for the readiness of Nokia and Microsoft.)

Nokia Caught Faking Video Footage From ‘PureView’ Lumia Camera 

Great catch from The Verge: a video purportedly shot with the Lumia 920 by an actor riding a bicycle was actually shot by a cameraman riding in a van with a professional camera rig and lighting setup. In an update:

We spoke with a Nokia spokesperson who agrees that the PureView ad is misleading. They stressed that it was “never the company’s intention to deceive anyone,” but only to demonstrate the benefits of optical image stabilization.

Bullshit. It’s clear that this was meant to demonstrate footage shot using the Lumia itself.

Nokia’s New Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 With Windows Phone 8 

The 920 looks good, but seems physically a bit large for my tastes. But the display seems gorgeous, the camera looks excellent, and I was really impressed with the build quality of last year’s Lumia 800. I really do think these are the most compelling alternatives to the iPhone. But I thought the same thing last year, and they didn’t sell. What makes this year different?

And: no ship date. Windows Phone 8 isn’t out yet, so who knows when you’ll actually be able to buy one of these things? What’s the advantage to announcing these phones ahead of the iPhone 5 if they aren’t also going to sell them ahead of the iPhone 5?

Motorola Announces Droid Razr HD, Razr Maxx HD, and Droid Razr M 

My first thought: why do the Razr HD and Razr HD Maxx both exist? The M I get — it’s smaller and cheaper. But the HD and HD Maxx seem like two versions of the same phone, one with a bigger battery. Dieter Bohn at The Verge, having seen them both, writes:

In fact, just looking at the phones it’d almost difficult to distinguish them — they’re easiest to tell apart by weight.

Design is making decisions.

‘Why Don’t You Walk Around With a Helmet on Too?’ 

Jerry Seinfeld shares my feeling on iPhone cases.

Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair: How Obama Made the Decision on Libya 

Really looking forward to the whole article. The term “unprecedented access” is often used a bit flippantly, but in this case it seems truly apt.

De-Anonymizing Apple UDIDs With OpenFeint 

One example of how UDID device IDs can be de-anonymized. Since this was originally published back in May 2011, OpenFeint has closed the more egregious privacy holes (GPS location, for example), but it still returns information that can be used to identify you. (Via Marco Arment.)

Apple Denies Giving FBI Any Device IDs 

John Paczkowski:

“The FBI has not requested this information from Apple, nor have we provided it to the FBI or any organization. Additionally, with iOS 6 we introduced a new set of APIs meant to replace the use of the UDID and will soon be banning the use of UDID,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told AllThingsD.

So it’s looking less and less like the total clusterfuck I thought at first. But still: where’d they come from?

(I’ve looked at the file with the UDIDs and device names, and it doesn’t seem to contain any of my devices. There are two listings for “John Gruber’s iPad”, but neither of those are mine. Of course, that doesn’t mean the original file doesn’t contain my devices — the AntiSec hacker group that released this file claimed it represented only 10 percent of the original.)

WordPress.com Serving Retina-Quality Images 

Matt Mullenweg:

All of your blog posts will now serve high-resolution images for users that can see them, at least the images that we host. Since we create all images dynamically on the fly, what we do is if you’ve uploaded a higher resolution photo and sized it down, we’ll serve a double-size so it looks super sharp to those visitors — they’ll think you’re ahead of the game.

Cool feature, available for self-hosted WordPress sites too. Soon enough, we’re going to stop thinking that websites that serve retina-quality images are ahead of the game, and instead think that websites that don’t are behind the times.

The Apple Tax 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

There seems to be a moral aspect, here, as if Apple should be held to a higher standard. Last year, Apple and Nokia settled an IP “misunderstanding” that also resulted in a “Tax”…but it was Nokia that played the T-Man role: Apple paid Nokia more than $600M plus an estimated $11.50 per iPhone sold. Where were the handwringers who now accuse Apple of abusing the patent system when the Nokia settlement took place? Where was the outrage against the “evil”, if hapless, Finnish company? (Amusingly, observers speculate that Nokia has made more money from these IP arrangements than from selling its own Lumia smartphones.)

Windows RT and Office 2013 RT Video Demo 

The Verge got some hands-on time with a Samsung tablet running the release version of Windows RT. Pretty much the entire video is spent showing how touch-unfriendly it is. Wait until you see how you rotate the screen. I’m truly surprised — and disappointed — at how much even the RT (ARM) version of Windows 8 depends on the classic desktop mode.

Embrace the Remix 

Kirby Ferguson’s “Everything Is a Remix” TED talk. Thought-provoking, as always.

Roof Kerning in Amsterdam 

Large-scale pixel art.

FBI: Statement on Alleged Compromise of FBI Laptop 

Official statement from the FBI:

The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.

That’s interesting, because the FBI doesn’t usually comment like this.

Manual Transmission and the iPad Mini 

Tom at The Unknown Coast has an interesting take on my automatic-vs.-manual transmission analogy from 2010:

But the European car market demonstrates that the current popularity of automatic cars in the US was not inevitable; or at least, it wasn’t an inevitable consequence of technological progress. It wasn’t something that had to happen given the intrinsic technological properties of automatic cars. Under a different set of cultural and economic circumstances, manual transmission could have remained the dominant technology in the US, despite the availability of automatic cars.

His thinking is that an iPad Mini might push the perception that iPads are peripherals to “real” computers, not the future of real computers. Perhaps another reason Apple might call it not the Mini but the iPad Air.

The Naming of Things 

Jeremy Herrman:

The reason Apple dropped model numbers with the iPad has seemed obvious to me for months: because they’re going to be selling the current “new iPad” alongside the yet to be announced iPad Mini.

Think about it, if Apple kept the model number then consumers would have to choose between the iPad 3 and iPad Mini. What would Apple do for the next version of the iPads?

Smart. And he makes a good point about the implications of the new iPhone being named “iPhone 5”.

Get That Apple iPhone 5 Out of Jon Friedman’s Face 

Jon Friedman, writing for MarketWatch:

Why am I so opposed to the iPhone 5, before I even have the opportunity to hold one in my hands?

It boils down to the old expression, Fool me once, shame on you — fool me twice, shame on me.

I already feel like I got taken by this company.

When did MarketWatch start hiring such whiners?

Apple Announces Special Event for September 12 

So I guess they are going to call it the iPhone 5.

AntiSec Leaks 1 Million Apple UDIDs Allegedly Obtained From FBI Breach 

Well, this sounds like a total clusterfuck.

NYT: ‘After Verdict, Assessing the Samsung Strategy in South Korea’ 

Choe Sang-Hun, reporting for the NYT, talks to Korean analyst James Song:

“Look what has happened to companies like Nokia, Motorola and BlackBerry, which didn’t do as Samsung did,” Mr. Song added, referring to competitors whose failures to adapt quickly to the smartphone boom driven by iPhones have drastically reduced their market shares. “Samsung may lack in innovation, but right now, no one can beat Samsung in playing catch-up.”

Don’t forget Palm, which arguably had the most innovative post-iPhone UI (and I’d go so far as to say, inarguably, the best post-iPad tablet UI), but which completely imploded on the market. “We’re the only ones having any success against Apple whatsoever” is Samsung’s best defense. It’s noble to try something innovative, but that does you no good, ultimately, without market success.

Just playing devil’s advocate for a paragraph. What if Apple is like a sports team that introduced a groundbreaking strategy. Something like introducing the forward pass to football. Is it wrong for another team to copy that strategy? What if the only other team that can win is the one team that most shamelessly copied that strategy? At some point you have to start thinking that the problem is with the (losing) teams that aren’t copying. (Is not the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the rash of MacBook-lookalike PC laptops that these models sell better?)

Stay Classy, Samsung 

Kind of bizarre story by Brad McCarty for TheNextWeb, describing how Samsung flew writers from India to Berlin, but then threatened to strand them there unless they dressed up and worked as company marketing reps at the IFA Conference.

Denominations 

Clever and extremely efficient iPhone currency converter app by Abraham Vegh. So simple.

Jordan Kahn Saw a Lot of Innovative Notebook Designs at IFA in Berlin 

Looks like Apple has been ripping off the laptop designs of companies like HP, Samsung, and LG.

Touched a Nerve 

The content of this Gizmodo post isn’t particularly interesting — it’s just a reblogging of Sebastiaan de With’s “PC laptops before and after the MacBook Pro and Air” comparison from the other day — but the comments are a gold mine. E.g.:

  • “The picture is nothing but a little fucking Apple Fanboy kicking up shit for no reason. […] Now this is showing only bulky machines and netbooks. Why don’t they actually show a normal laptop? Hmm? Also tell me how that tiny little battery is getting you through the day compared to the GIANT ass battery in my non anorexic laptop.”

  • “Ugh, this is bugging me more than I thought it would! You’re showing a Dell Dx30\Dx51 generation laptop. That laptop is NOT succeeded by a Dell XPS 13. There have been about 3 generations since that laptop, the current is the Dell Latitude E6420.”

  • “I mean, seriously, Apple didn’t invent the chiclet keyboard, for crying out loud. And thinness isn’t a new idea, either. This is just another John Gruber-derived piece of fanboy nonsense.”

Sketch 

My thanks to Bohemian Coding for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Sketch, their Apple Design Award-winning vector graphics app. Just look at how beautiful their website is, and imagine how much thought and care they put into the app. Sketch is that good.

Sketch has a beautiful interface with great features like multiple borders, fills, and shadows. It’s great for designers, and it’s great for developers. Sketch is available on the Mac App Store and is currently on sale for just $29.

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