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.
All in a beautiful vector-based interface that scales and zooms with ease.
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:
Given our set of data, old Maps doesn’t fare that much better
than new Maps.
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.
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 ★
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
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
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
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.)
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.
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 ★
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
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Apple Maps vs. Google Maps ★
Here come the jokes.
Pogue on iOS 6 Maps ★
In short, Maps is an appalling first release. It may be the most
embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever
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
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 ★
RadioShack said Wednesday that its CEO is leaving under an
agreement with the board, the latest blow for the struggling
Guess he never did figure it out.
Damned if You Do, Googled if You Don’t ★
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 ★
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? ★
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
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 ★
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 ★
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 ★
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.
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 ★
“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
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
Anyway, that’s a lot of phones.
Tim Cook and the iPhone 5 Rollout Schedule ★
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.
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 ★
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
Is Apple somehow blocking it? If so, Google’s not saying. Is
Google holding back for some strange reason? Again, we just
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 ★
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 ★
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
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.
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 ★
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
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 ★
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:
- Android lets developers have access to the dialer so that app
developers can watch who calls you and who you call.
- 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.
- 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 ★
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
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
I hope I get a review unit.
Interesting Background on the Apple-Designed A6 CPU ★
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.
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@2×.png file needed to avoid letterboxing.
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?
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.
The new Twitter for iPad is a design disaster. It perfectly
showcases the wrong way to pursue cross-platform consistency.
Question to all @twitter employees: how many of you will secretly
use @Tweetbot iPad app instead of this pig of an update on
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 ★
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
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
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 ★
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 ★
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? ★
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.
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 ★
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.
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 ★
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 ★
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 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.
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
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
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 ★
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 ★
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ★
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
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
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 ★
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’
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.
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 ★
Wait, that wasn’t emphatic enough.
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
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 ★
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? ★
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
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 ★
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
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’ ★
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 ★
“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 ★
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 ★
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
That’s interesting, because the FBI doesn’t usually comment like this.
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.
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.”