Linked List: June 2013

Consensus on Ouya $99 Android Game Console: It Stinks 

Shocker.

Collaborate.com 

My thanks to Collaborate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Collaborate is an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, powerful tool for team collaboration and project management — all from a single, simple app.

You can set up the entire thing — from creating your account, inviting members, and creating private collaboration “Rooms” — entirely from your iPhone. They started with a mobile-first mindset, and it really shows. Collaborate is a great app, with some nice little touches. You can share from Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or email. Comments, likes, dislikes, notifications — everything you need for private, team collaboration.

Download Collaborate for iPhone today and see for yourself, or visit their website to learn more. Collaborate is free for small teams.

Otl Aicher’s 1972 Munich Olympics Design Work 

Color, type, iconography — seems like a huge influence on iOS 7. Run a Google image search and some of these just jump right out at you. (Thanks to DF reader Samuel Iglesias.)

Update 1: More examples, at Designspiration.

Update 2: The one I call out above (linked on “jump”) is in fact by Max Bill, set within Aicher’s grid. You can see Bill’s signature in the top right corner. (Thanks to James Goggin.)

Armin Vit on Sterling Cooper and Partners’s New Logo 

“The firm does not accept any tobacco-related work.”

Dave Hamilton on iOS 7’s Coalesced Updates 

Dave Hamilton, writing for The Mac Observer:

“Alright, time for everyone to use the bathroom,” my father used to say on road trips. “But I don’t have to,” was the inevitable whine from (at least) one of us kids. Dad’s reply was always the same: “It wasn’t a question.”

My dad was focused on being as efficient as possible, of course. Instead of stopping for just one person to pee and then getting back on the road, it makes way more sense to have everyone pee at each stop. That at least prevents the inevitable inefficiency introduced ten minutes later when the next person feels nature urging them along.

The State of Google Reader Replacements 

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS:

The good news is that the developer community has come through, and there are now several compelling alternatives to Google Reader, though all are far from complete. And our previous favorite, Feedly, even has some new flair to share. I’ve sorted through the competition to find the best choices that work for multiple platforms, have third-party support, and, if possible, follow sustainable business models.

The most important thing, if you’re still using Google Reader, is to download your subscription list before Monday.

iOS 7 as Defense 

Marco Arment:

The theme is clear: iOS 7’s UI requires some of Apple’s biggest strengths, and efforts to copy it will be hindered by some of Android’s biggest weaknesses.

iOS 7 is also going to be a problem for cross-platform frameworks. Fewer assumptions can be made about the UI widgets and behaviors common to all major platforms. And any UI targeting the least common denominator will now look even more cheap and dated on iOS 7, since the new standard on the OS is so far from the old one.

Similar line of thinking to Allen Pike’s piece yesterday.

Money Well Spent 

Businessweek’s Peter Burrows writes a story that says Apple’s new TV commercial is a dud. His source: “Ace Metrix Inc., a consulting firm that analyzes the effectiveness of TV ads through surveys of at least 500 TV viewers”.

Take a guess who is one of Ace Metrix’s clients.

Compare the Front Pages of Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times 

Remember a few weeks ago when The Chicago Sun-Times fired its entire photography staff and claimed they could replace them with reporters armed with iPhones? Here’s the result.

Calculator Construction Set 

Whenever we tell people about DB5, someone always mentions this classic story from Andy Hertzfeld’s Folklore site.

DB5 

When talking about the design and development of Vesper, we’ve mentioned that Brent Simmons built a custom system that allowed me and Dave Wiskus to tweak the design — colors, spacing, sizing, fonts, corner radiuses, etc. — by editing values in a simple plist file. A simple CSS-like system for iOS design.

The system’s name is DB5, and as of today, it’s open source. Here’s Brent’s announcement.

Why Edward Snowden Asked Visitors in Hong Kong to Refrigerate Their Phones 

Heather Murphy, writing the NYT Lede blog:

Another household object that functions similarly, Mr. Harvey has learned through his research into cellphone data transmission, is a stainless steel martini shaker.

“It’s a perfect Faraday cage — it will block all radio signals unless you decide you need to pour yourself a martini,” he said.

Unless?

(Via Matthew Panzarino.)

Conan O’Brien Visits E3 

“The big question in the gaming industry is, which is the better console — and what does a naked woman look like?”

‘iOS 7: Catch Me if You Can’ 

Allen Pike:

Let’s say we worked at Apple, and were challenged with designing an experience that was impossible in 2007. Something that would be entirely impossible with web technology. What would our futuristic UI look like?

It would have compositing effects that need serious GPU horsepower. Blur is a beautiful but computationally intensive operation, so we’d use it liberally. To push it further, the blurred areas will need to update during scrolling and update at 60 fps.

The Real Math of Pandora Royalty Payments 

Michael DeGusta takes David Lowery to the woodshed:

Even more importantly, FM/AM paid him NOTHING for the performance of the song. Unlike most industrialized nations, terrestrial radio stations in the US have never paid performers anything. It’s hard to believe, but true: they can play John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things” for decades and never pay him or his estate a single cent.

Lowery doesn’t disclose the Pandora performance royalty but he declares it “unsustainable.” This is a fascinating perspective: apparently in Lowery’s view a performance royalty of $1,275 is unsustainable but the AM/FM world of $0 is totally fine?

Systematic 

Brett Terpstra was kind enough to have yours truly on his podcast this week, and it was a lot of fun. We talked about Vesper, Markdown, editing and writing blog posts, and more.

DOMA’s Demise Celebrated by Apple, Other Top Tech Firms 

Mike Isaac, AllThingsD:

One ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the bill passed in 1996 that ruled same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The other decision left intact a lower-court ruling that invalidated California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

Among progressive Silicon Valley tech companies, the reaction was incredibly positive.

“Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today,” an Apple spokesman told AllThingsD in a statement.

Google, in typical Google fashion, has had fun with its statement of support for same-sex couples. Type the word “gay”, “lesbian”, “transgender” or “bisexual” into Google’s search bar, and the box quickly morphs into a pride-colored rainbow, a not-so-subtle showing of celebration.

Barnes & Noble Giving Up on Hardware 

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, reporting for the WSJ:

The bookseller said Tuesday that losses at its Nook digital business more than doubled in the quarter ended April 27, easily wiping out profits generated at its bookstores. As a result, Barnes & Noble said it would stop producing its own color tablets, in favor of co-branded devices made by third-party manufacturers.

Good luck with that.

Instagram Video and the Death of Fantasy 

Jenna Wortham:

But while that shaky video that I took on the roof was definitely steeped in reality and definitely true to the moment, it wasn’t the version of the night that I wanted to remember or share with my Instagram friends.

That’s because Instagram isn’t about reality – it’s about a well-crafted fantasy, a highlights reel of your life that shows off versions of yourself that you want to remember and put on display in a glass case for other people to admire and browse through. It’s why most of the photographs uploaded to Instagram are beautiful and entertaining slices of life and not the tedious time in-between of those moments, when bills get paid, cranky children are put to bed, little spats with friends.

Look, and Feel 

Dan Wineman:

Affordances are the baby to skeuomorphism’s bathwater. When they engage our instincts just right, they create an emotional bond, and the unfamiliar becomes inviting. Without them, it’s just pictures under glass.

What Sync Means These Days 

Brent Simmons:

Or consider MarsEdit, which downloads posts from your blog. That’s by far the most important part of sync for a blog editor (though I could understand wanting to sync your drafts).

But the lack of an iOS version of MarsEdit is considered a sync bug.

I’m fine with this. “Syncing” now means not just syncing itself but the creation of multiple versions of an app that sync.

Just a few years ago, web app proponents promised a future where everything would be a web app, “write once, run everywhere” would really work this time. But the truth, it turns out, is that people want more different native apps than ever before. And web apps too.

Resources for Mac and iOS Developers 

Dave Mark:

I went looking for a reasonably recently updated list of dev resources to link to from the article. Couldn’t find one I was happy with, then remembered that we included a pretty solid list at the end of the book Beginning iOS 6 Development. Since that list needed to be updated for the iOS 7 rev of the book, I thought, why not pop the list into a blog post. And here we are.

His Song Got Played on Pandora 1 Million Times and All David Lowery Got Was $16.89 

David Lowery:

Soon you will be hearing from Pandora how they need Congress to change the way royalties are calculated so that they can pay much much less to songwriters and performers. For you civilians webcasting rates are “compulsory” rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not “opt out” of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn’t pay them enough.

All the Apps Have Been Written 

Kevin Hoctor:

I wrote some advice in an interview with App Camp For Girls recently, “Find something in your life that is broken and write software to fix it.” The best software is personal. It’s something you need. It heals a wound in your life and makes you happy.

(Via MacStories.)

Siri Learns How to Pronounce Names in iOS 7 

Scott Buscemi, writing for 9to5Mac:

As discovered by 9to5Mac reader RY, Siri will ask for help pronouncing a name if it has trouble understanding you the first time you pronounce a name. In addition, we have found that you can simply say, “That’s not how you pronounce [any name]” and Siri will go through the learning process.

Google Mine 

From the unofficial Google Operating System blog:

Google prepares a new service that’s called Google Mine. It’s integrated with Google+ and it’s a way to keep track of the items you own or you’d like to have and share some of them with your circles. Right now, the service is tested internally at Google.

Just tell Google everything you own and everything you’re interested in or like. Sure.

Director Saschka Unseld Discusses Pixar, Photorealism, and the Making of ‘The Blue Umbrella’ 

Pixar continues to push the state of the art forward. Hard to believe this is entirely CG.

NetNewsWire 4 Public Beta 

Looks good, and still feels like NetNewsWire (arrow keys). But syncing is still a work in progress.

What It Would Look Like if Planets Were as Close to Earth as the Moon 

The Daily Mail:

Ron Miller, a former art director for NASA, used digital trickery to superimpose scale drawings of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune over the same landscape, highlighting the sheer size of the planets.

The incredible drawings imagine each planet to be 233,812 miles from Earth - the same distance at which the moon orbits.

Jupiter is terrifying.

Steve Jobs on Technology as ‘Sedimentary Layers’ 

Interesting snippet of an interview, back at the tail end of the NeXT era.

Apple Seeds iOS 7 Beta 2 to Developers, Now Supports iPad 

I was a little concerned about the lack of iPad support in the first beta (and in all the public demonstrations); good to know it isn’t too far behind the iPhone version.

‘I Missed OK’ 

On this week’s episode of The Talk Show, I’m joined by special guest Adam Lisagor, for a considered discussion on the design changes in iOS 7.

Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:

  • Fracture: We print your photos in vivid color, directly on glass. It’s photo, frame and mount, all in one.

  • Instabrowser for iPhone: A fast browser that turns any webpage into a mobile webpage.

Charles Perry: ‘Vesper: The First App for iOS 7’ 

Good words from Charles Perry on the design of Vesper:

My concerns over iOS 7 preparations lingered during WWDC, but once I returned home I realized my mistake. In fact, there is already an app in the App Store from which I can draw inspiration for this new style. An app that adopts the look and feel of iOS 7 by elevating the content over the chrome. An app that uses color and animation in the style of iOS 7 to clarify content. I realized that, for all intents and purposes, Vesper is the first iOS 7 app in the App Store. Despite being an iOS 6 app, Vesper adopts the major idioms of iOS 7 and serves as a great example of how developers can adopt those same idioms and still retain an individual identity for their app.

This made my day, but allow me to put my humble hat on for a moment, and praise two apps that foreshadowed iOS 7 long before Vesper: Letterpress and Twitterrific 5. I’ve been a TweetBot man for quite a while, but on my iOS 7 testing device, I find Twitterrific is the only Twitter client that feels right at home.

Putting the Q in QA 

Brent Simmons, on Q Branch QA engineer Nick Arnott:

During my recent talk at AltWWDC, I was asked what makes a good QA person. I think I said, “Doggedness.” Which in my personal lexicon is high praise. (When I think about my own abilities, I know full well that they exist only because I keep chasing sticks and don’t ever stop, not out of any innate talent.)

Here’s the thing about Nick: I think he’s convinced that there’s another bug. And he’ll keep going till he finds it. And, once he finds it, he’s convinced that there’s another bug.

Mike Elgan on the Design of iOS 7 

Mike Elgan:

Here’s the thing: The appeal of one type of color treatment over another is culturally determined. Apple’s super bright iOS 7 colors tend to shock Europeans and Americans, who favor increasingly dark, bleak, post-apocolyptic color schemes. (Just look at Superman’s new suit!) But super-bright colors like the ones in iOS 7 are perennial favorites through Asia, including China and India, and also throughout much of Latin America.

In short, Apple’s color scheme may astonish and disappoint jaded Northern and Western urban geeks. But these colors will be an international crowd-pleaser.

Interesting theory.

The New Mac Pro 

Guy English:

This machine fascinates me not because it seems like it’ll make everything I currently do faster. It fascinates me because it’s fundamentally new. There’s only one CPU socket and it bets heavily on the bus and GPU performance. While this looks to software to be just another Mac it isn’t. It’s capabilities aren’t traditional. The CPU is a front end to a couple of very capable massively parallel processors at the end of a relatively fast bus. One of those GPUs isn’t even hooked up to do graphics. I think that’s a serious tell. If you leverage your massively parallel GPU to run a computation that runs even one second and in that time you can’t update your screen, that’s a problem. Have one GPU dedicated to rendering and a second available for serious computation and you’ve got an architecture that’ll feel incredible to work with.

Adobe Kuler 

Speaking of DF RSS feed sponsors, my thanks to this week’s, Adobe Kuler.

Kuler is a new app for iOS designed for creating, sharing, and finding color themes. It’s very fun, and useful for any designer. It’s connected to Creative Cloud, so you can do things like capture colors from a photo using your iPhone, and then have a color palette based on that image show up in Illustrator. And: Kuler is a free download.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

A last-minute scheduling change has opened up next week’s DF RSS feed sponsorship, and there’s one week left in July. If you have a product or service that you’d like to promote to Daring Fireball’s audience of smart, good-looking readers, please do get in touch.

Facebook Archive Tool Exposed Contact Info for 6 Million Users 

Shocker.

Hypercritical T-Shirts 2.0 

Only problem is picking a color. (Marco Arment has more on why Siracusa had to do this over again.)

Apple and Change 

John Moltz:

iOS 7 isn’t complete yet, and we can hope that some of the eyesores will get refined (straight into a shallow grave). So, yes, let’s nitpick about icon design, and the apps that still have textures, and whatever else seems off. But Apple has set the overall direction. All that’s left for developers to do is to decide what business they want to be in.

93 Percent of Active iOS Users Are Running iOS 6 

Looks a little different than Android’s numbers.

Kickstarter: ‘We Were Wrong’ 

Great apology.

Instagram Adds Video, Ruins Instagram 

They did this to spite Vine (and Twitter, which owns Vine), not because it makes Instagram better, because it doesn’t make Instagram better, it makes it worse. Slow to load, noise I don’t want, bursts their bubble of simplicity and focus. Thankfully there’s a setting to turn off “Auto-Play Videos”; otherwise I’d abandon ship.

How to Make a Vesper: Design 

Comprehensive post-mortem by my colleague Dave Wiskus on the design of Vesper 1.0, replete with copious screenshots and animatics, documenting the entire process and the thinking behind many of our decisions.

Introducing Aaron’s Law, a Desperately Needed Reform of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 

Zoe Lofgren and Ron Wyden:

Vagueness is the core flaw of the CFAA. As written, the CFAA makes it a federal crime to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization. Confused by that? You’re not alone. Congress never clearly described what this really means. As a result, prosecutors can take the view that a person who violates a website’s terms of service or employer agreement should face jail time.

So lying about one’s age on Facebook, or checking personal email on a work computer, could violate this felony statute. This flaw in the CFAA allows the government to imprison Americans for a violation of a non-negotiable, private agreement that is dictated by a corporation. Millions of Americans — whether they are of a digitally native or dial-up generation — routinely submit to legal terms and agreements every day when they use the Internet. Few have the time or the ability to read and completely understand lengthy legal agreements.

David Remnick on James Gandolfini 

David Remnick:

“The Sopranos” remains the best television series since the beginning of the medium, dramatically terrifying, comically richer than “The Honeymooners,” a series that began with a premise, a milieu, and a cast that, unlike “Mad Men,” never exhausted itself. Gandolfini was not the creator of “The Sopranos” — David Chase was the author of this novel in every way — nor was he a solo act, like Alec Guinness in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “Smiley’s People.” Chase populated his series with actors, like Edie Falco, and amateur actors, who gave the cast a Fellini-esque variety and depth. But Gandolfini was the focal point of “The Sopranos,” the incendiary, sybaritic neurotic who must play the Godfather at home and at the Bada Bing but knows that everything — his family, his racket, his way of life — is collapsing all around him.

With Markdown, Even the Blind Can Write 

Steven Aquino, who is legally blind:

Given Markdown’s nature, I came to the realization that it, however unintentionally, is in fact a wonderful accessibility tool, because it reduces eye strain while writing. The simplicity of Markdown’s syntax makes it possible to not have to look at the screen every time I want to italicize a word or insert a link. My eyes are more sensitive than most people’s insofar that I can stare at a screen only so long before fatigue and pain sets in. The less time I have to look at the screen, the better my eyes feel. Thus, what makes using Markdown so great is that I don’t have to waste time trying to locate buttons or menu options. I just glance down at my keyboard to ensure I’m pressing the right keys.

This made my day.

Map of Mobile Devices Using Twitter 

MapBox:

More than 280 million Tweets posted from mobile phones reveal geographic usage patterns in unprecedented detail.

Rather amazing. Zoom in on Philadelphia or any other big city, and you see just what you’d expect: a red/green breakdown along socio-economic lines.

Also: Mountain View seems pretty red.

L.A. School District Awards Apple $30 Million Contract for iPads 

Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe, reporting for The Los Angeles Times:

A Microsoft representative urged the board to try more than one product and not to rely on one platform. Doing so could cut off the district from future price reductions and innovations, said Robyn Hines, senior director of state government affairs for Microsoft.

Read that again. A Microsoft representative urging people not to rely on one platform.

Times really have changed.

Remembering James Gandolfini and Tony Soprano 

Alan Sepinwall:

And his work on the show made possible Vic Mackey, Al Swearengen, Walter White, Don Draper and every complicated, riveting anti-hero (or worse) who followed him. “The Sopranos” was an enormous hit, and told the business that the old rules need no longer apply.

WSJ: Microsoft Was Close to Acquiring Nokia’s Mobile Phone Business 

Sharon Terlep, Dennis Berman, and Shira Ovide, reporting for the WSJ:

Microsoft Corp. was recently in advanced discussions with Nokia Corp. about a purchase of the Finnish company’s device business, according to people familiar with the matter, in a marriage that could have reshaped the mobile-phone industry.

The talks have faltered, they said. One person said talks took place as recently as this month but aren’t likely to be revived.

(More coverage from Techmeme.)

On Arguing ‘Wrongness’ Based on Intuition 

R.E. Warner:

I do not mean to imply to that Neven Mrgan is either foolish or possessing of a little mind. This is not a straw man argument. I mean to say that it is foolish for a designer to rely on intuition to inform design because it yields repetition and blinds them from new opportunities. A small mind is a limited mind and using intuition as a guide will yield nothing new, only that which “feels right.” Or to put it another way, what “feels right” is what your mind is used to.

Gus Mueller on WWDC 2013 

Gus Mueller:

Apple is going to let OS X be itself, and let iOS do the same. Multiple times during the keynote we heard an exec say “ten years” — in reference to needing a new case design for the Mac Pro or in coming up with names for OS X. This is awesome news for Mac developers and what we’ve been wanting to hear for a long time now. Apple still cares about the Mac and you really felt like they meant it this year. From the session content to talking with employees about OS X issues to parity between new frameworks introduced on iOS and OS X- the Mac is still getting a lot of love down in Cupertino.

One of my key takeaways from last week is that it’s not just user interface design where Apple has increased collaboration under its post-Jobs/Forstall management structure, but they’ve increased engineering collaboration too. There was far less “iOS this”, “OS X that”, and much more “here’s how you do this on Apple platforms”.

Multiplane 

Interesting iOS 7 association from Manton Reece.

HBO Go and WatchESPN Come to Apple TV 

Apple:

Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date, and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000 movies per day.

Not bad for a hobby.

A small bit of code from Vesper. More open source coming soon.

Great Basin: The Stars and Their Courses 

Field Notes:

The idea was fairly simple, though complex in the making: for those of us in big metropolitan, light-polluted areas like Chicago who can’t see the night sky very clearly, we wanted to travel to this beautiful, dark section of rural Nevada and then bring the stars back with us, capturing a full night sky to be played back, in real time.

4K resolution — twice that of most movie theaters.

I need a bigger display.

Neven Mrgan on the iOS 7 Icon Template Grid 

Neven Mrgan:

But whether we accept the idea of a grid or not, here’s the bigger point: no icon designer I’ve asked thinks Ive’s grid is helpful. In that sense, it’s wrong. The large circle is too big. Many apps in iOS 7 use it: all the Store apps, Safari, Messages, Photos… In all these icons, the big shape in the center is simply too big. Every icon designer I’ve asked would instead draw something like the icon on the right. To our eyes — and we get paid to have good ones, we’re told — this is more correct.

Michael Heilemann on iOS 7 

Some of the best criticism of iOS 7’s design that I’ve seen.

Matt Gemmell on iOS 7 

Matt Gemmell:

Press coverage is disproportionally focusing on the Home screen (about which more in a moment), but the reality of day to day usage is that you’ll spend time in apps. Where there were previously gloomy cubbyholes and low ceilings, there are now floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, and clean surfaces.

I think it’s an enormous improvement, and a typically opinionated move.

Second Least-Surprising Tidbit From the Apple-DOJ E-Book Price-Fixing Trial 

Peter Kafka:

The “page curls” in the iBook app, which show up when you flip an iBook’s page? That’s Steve Jobs’s idea.

You can see that he liked the page curl from his demeanor during the demo, starting around the 3:15 mark.

New 13-Inch MacBook Air Runs for 15 Hours in PCMag Battery Test 

Joel Santo Domingo, reviewing the new 13-inch Air:

Road warriors and jet travellers rejoice, we’ve found a laptop that will last all day and well into the night. The newest Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid-2013) lasted an astonishing 15-and-a-half hours on a battery test that makes most current mainstream ultrabooks and ultraportables cough and die after four to six hours. The fact that the system gives up very little if any day-to-day performance is astounding.

Not bad.

Persuading David Simon  

Maciej Ceglowski:

The security state operates as a ratchet. Once you click in a new level of surveillance or intrusiveness, it becomes the new baseline. What was unthinkable yesterday becomes permissible in exceptional cases today, and routine tomorrow. The people who run the American security apparatus are in the overwhelming majority diligent people with a deep concern for civil liberties. But their job is to find creative ways to collect information. And they work within an institution that, because of its secrecy, is fundamentally inimical to democracy and to a free society.

Remarkably thoughtful essay; if you read only one thing this week, make it this.

Designers on iOS 7 

Week-old roundup of day one designer commentary on iOS 7. I was right about one thing: it’s polarizing. Two remarks I very much agree with:

Craig Mod:

What was outlined today looks like a very rational base on which to extend the OS — somewhat timeless, far more timeless than what we had before.

Justin Rhoades:

I think the design had to be reset so that newer interaction models could surface. More gestures, more animations. They added a physics engine to the SDK. It’s like a pendulum swinging from obvious visual affordances to engaging kinetic ones. The parallax effect, the physics of the messages bubbles and I’m sure many other ‘kinetic’ behaviors are new to devs in iOS7. Apple wants apps to use more motion and less visual design.

Fargo 0.80 

Dave Winer:

A few minutes ago we flipped the switch on smallpict.com and now all the sites there are being managed by a new content management system Kyle and I have been working on for most of this year.

What this means is this: you can publish from Fargo to a blogging system that understands outlines at its core.

Dave Winer, outlining, blog publishing systems — that’s a story as old as the web itself, but the technology here is all new. (Includes Markdown support, too.)

Update: Brent Simmons on Fargo and Dave Winer:

I’ll put it another way. I can take a good idea and make a nice app, but Dave can make a good idea.

iTunes Radio 

Tyler Hayes on iTunes Radio:

The design and goal is clearly focused on listeners purchasing music — but even so, iTunes Radio feels like the first truly modern take on what terrestrial radio wishes it could be. Radio was always meant to be a promotion tool, a way to sell more music, but without being built directly on top of the world’s biggest music retailer, it was always too distant from the marketplace to be more effectual. Now a “buy” button lives next to every song, or a wish list one for those hesitant, and it feels like this is how modern radio should function.

Agreed; iTunes Radio is well-done and well-designed. I’m a little surprised Apple is making everyone wait for iOS 7 to get it.

Huawei ‘Considering’ Nokia Acquisition 

ZDNet:

According to the Financial Times of London (paywall), Richard Yu, chairman of Huawei’s consumer business group, said at the launch of its latest smartphone offering, the Ascend P6, in London: “We are considering these sorts of acquisitions; maybe the combination has some synergies but depends on the willingness of Nokia.”

“We are open minded,” Yu told reporters.

Update: Huawei issues statement saying it “has no plans to acquire Nokia”.

‘Of Course, They’re Trying to Kill Me.’ 

Speaking of interviews with Simmonses, Dave Hamilton at The Mac Observer talked to my Q Branch colleague Brent Simmons last week during WWDC regarding the development of Vesper.

Nexus 7, One Year In 

Dustin Earley:

I can’t find one person who has been using the Nexus 7 for an extended period of time, and hasn’t seen a massive downgrade in performance. Just what kind of downgrade are we talking here? I cannot pick up my Nexus 7 without experiencing problems like a lag of ten seconds, or more, just to rotate the display; touches refusing to acknowledged; stuttering notification panel actions; and unresponsive apps.

I tried the basics at first, like a factory reset. I then moved onto drastic measures, like rooting and installing CyanogenMod 10.1 (which I thought would surely fix everything, since I’ve used faster devices with lesser hardware, and performance problems were merely a lack of software optimization). And nothing seems to work.

My first-generation iPad from 2010 works just as well as the day I bought it. Actually, even better, because iOS has gotten better.

Update: A lot of pushback from readers on my claim above, arguing that their first-gen iPads have been rendered slow and unstable by iOS 5 (the last OS to support the hardware). My son uses mine for iBooks, watching movies, and playing games. Mileage clearly varies with other apps. (And yes, the App Store app in particular is a bit crashy.)

Chatology 1.0 

New from Flexibits (makers of Fantastical): Chatology, a $20 Mac utility for searching your iChat/iMessage archives.

Update: Brief interview with Flexibits’s Michael Simmons from Lex Friedman at Macworld.

Least Surprising Tidbit From Apple-DOJ E-Book Trial 

Brian X. Chen, reporting for the NYT from the e-book price-fixing trial:

Both parties showed their evidence on a projector screen. Apple’s legal team used a MacBook to shuffle between evidence documents, stacking them side by side in split screens and zooming in on specific paragraphs.

In contrast, the Justice Department’s lawyers could show only one piece of evidence at a time. One video that Mr. Buterman played as evidence failed to produce the audio commentary needed to make his point.

Get Rid of the App Store’s ‘Top’ Lists 

Marco Arment:

The race to the bottom. Deceptive low-now, high-later pricing. Scam and clone apps. Shallow apps with little craftsmanship that succeed, but many high-quality apps unable to command a sustainable price. The “top” list encourages all of these — we’d still have them without the list, but to a substantially lesser degree.

Vintage 2007 Nokia Claim Chowder 

Alistair Croll, writing for GigaOm in November 2007:

But in the end, we know how this story plays out: iPhone is Compuserve; Nokia is the Internet.

Apple Statement on Customer Privacy 

Unsigned statement from Apple:

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.

For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

That last sentence separates Apple from many other companies.

Apple’s Signature 

Darby Lines, on Apple’s new “This Is Our Signature” campaign:

In my opinion this has been, from the return of Steve Jobs at least, the singular goal of Apple. Not to make all the moneys, not to dominate markets, not to impress bloggers but simply to make products that enhance our lives.

Apple spent nine months in complete silence — from the release of the iPad Mini through last week. The only thing they announced in that interim was the ouster of Scott Forstall and corresponding reshuffling of executive responsibility. No new products, no new designs. And the business and tech media lost their shit over this, declaring an end to Apple’s ability to innovate. Apple’s “This Is Our Signature” mantra is in defiance of this superficial demand for an endless stream of new new new. Apple is saying they’re above the churn of the news cycle, and if you don’t understand that yet, they don’t care. You’ll either get it through your head eventually, or you will never understand Apple.

Don’t Worry About iOS 7 

Jim Dalrymple:

Judging from my inbox, Twitter and Messages, people are losing their minds over iOS 7 and some of the changes Apple introduced at WWDC last week. Here is my advice to you — sit back, take a deep breath and relax.

There are a few things you need to remember about iOS 7. First, it’s nowhere near finished in terms of design or functionality. Apple engineers stopped adding or changing the operating system before WWDC so they had a stable build to show during the keynote. It’s not done.

iOS 7 is so far from done that maybe there is a story here, in that Apple has a mountain of work ahead to get iOS 7 ready for actual release this fall (presumably, coincident with the release of new iPhone and iPad devices). But to judge iOS 7 beta 1 as you would a release version is silly.

Squarespace 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace puts world-class design in your hands and provides everything you need to create your own website in minutes. Squarespace websites are different. They’re designed to be simple, modern, and to look great on every device. With Squarespace, your personality, products, or content are always the focus.

The best part: you can try Squarespace for free.

Requiem for a Back Button 

Khoi Vinh:

If you ask me, that back button, the one that has been with us since the iPhone debuted, was the best back button design of all time.

Fertile Ground 

Marco Arment:

Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives. If you want to enter a category that’s crowded on iOS 6, and you’re one of the few that exclusively targets iOS 7, your app can look better, work better, and be faster and cheaper to develop than most competing apps.

The Talk Show: ‘Code 47: Live From WWDC 2013’ 

Recorded earlier this week in front of a live audience in San Francisco, I was joined on stage by Guy English, Scott Simpson, and a cavalcade of very special surprise guests. I’m pretty happy with how this show turned out.

Brought to you by three excellent sponsors:

  • Windows Azure Mobile Services: makes it fast and easy to build connected mobile apps that scale. Try for free.

  • Briefs: Demo your ideas on the iPhone and iPad, without code.

  • Tumblewords: A beautiful and addictive word game for your iOS device.

‘Start Updating Your Apps for iOS 7. Now.’ 

Entropy:

The key takeaway we’ve reached (after two less than 24 hours playing with the iOS 7 Beta release) is this — every App must consider even basic updates to its UI to survive in a post-iOS 6 world.

‘Making a Difference, One App at a Time’ 

Have to think Apple made this to show during the WWDC keynote, but that it got dropped for time. It’s so great.

Been There, Done That 

Craig Hockenberry:

I think it’s useful to look at the history of Aqua while thinking about the future of iOS 7.

Some designers are saying that the new look is “over the top.” The same thing was said about Aqua over a decade ago. And in succeeding years, that original UI has continuously been refined to what we see today.

I wish I wrote this. So spot on.

Photos From The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2013 

Great photos from last night’s show by Randy Stewart. My thanks to everyone who attended; it was a blast.

Update: Great shots from Patrick Gibson, too.

‘Semi-Roboto’ 

Droid Life, “That Moment When iOS 7 Became Android”:

We’ll have so many more thoughts on the way related to iOS 7, but we thought we’d start with the eerily similar lock screens. Floating bubble live wallpaper, minimal clock, fading on the actionable icons, semi-Roboto font, etc.

Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, “semi-Roboto”. OK, then.

Ben Thompson on Tim Cook 

Ben Thompson:

The truth about the greatest commercial of all time — Think Different — is that the intended audience was Apple itself. Jobs took over a demoralized company on the precipice of bankruptcy, and reminded them that they were special, and, that Jobs was special. It was the beginning of a new chapter.

“Designed in California” should absolutely be seen in the same light. This is a commercial for Apple on the occasion of a new chapter; we just get to see it.

‘Designed by Apple’ 

“There are a thousand ‘no’s’ for every ‘yes’.”

Generosity of Perspective 

Thoughtful critique of iOS 7 from Frank Chimero:

This morning, I watched the videos of the iOS 7 interface again, and I saw a bunch of rushed designers unable to stabilize an uneven interface. It’s worth remembering that Ive took over Human Interface only 7 months ago, and they redesigned the whole phone in that time. Straight up: seven months is a ridiculous deadline.

iOS 7: Instead of Flatness, We Got Depth 

Astute take on iOS 7’s design by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, writing for Gizmodo:

The predicted rebirth Susan Kare’s original black-and-white OS design, it ain’t. Actually, let’s just ban using the term “flat” altogether for this post. The iOS 7 we met today was full of what Jony Ive called “new types of depth.” Alongside a poppy, neon-and-pastel color scheme, the icons, apps, and homescreen of iOS 7 are full of layering and dimensionality. There are also entirely new types of animation: from a screen that uses the accelerometer to adjust in parallax, to beautiful new animated weather icons.

All the Apple News (In Brief) 

Great overview of yesterday’s news, useful both if you were busy yesterday, or if you just need a reminder of everything that was announced.

City Notes: San Francisco 

Perfect timing for WWDC.

Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations 

The Guardian:

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows.

Robots and Pencils 

My thanks to Robots and Pencils for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed. Robots and Pencils make iOS apps, including Spy vs. Spy and Primeval DFX (Hollywood style CGI dinosaurs, inserted into your own videos) last year.

Their company name reflects their philosophy, with programmers and designers working in tandem. If you’re looking for someone to build an app for you, get in touch with Robots and Pencils.

Mos Espa 

Duncan Davidson:

After spending two nights at an outpost near the Algerian border on our madcap trip across Tunisia, we paid a visit to one of the Star Wars sets that still stands out in the desert.

Google Executive Takes the Stand in Apple E-Book Price-Fixing Trial, Doesn’t Do So Well 

Greg Sandoval, reporting for The Verge:

Things went downhill from there. Under Snyder’s questioning, Turvey acknowledged that he couldn’t remember a single name of any of the publishing executives who had told him Apple was the reason the publishers were switching their business model. He conceded that the publisher’s move to the agency system was important to Google’s own fledgling book business, yet Turvey couldn’t remember any details about the conversations with publishers. By the end of the interview Turvey had gone from saying the publishers had told him directly, to saying they had merely told people on his team, to finally saying the publishers had “likely” told someone on his team.

It was a topsy Turvey moment for the increasingly unsure Google exec. For Snyder and Apple it was one of those rare times when a trial opponent is practically defenseless. Mercifully, Cote adjourned saying “Let’s allow Mr. Turvey to escape so he can enjoy his Thursday.”

Analyzing Yahoo’s PRISM Non-Denial 

Christopher Soghoian:

Below, I have carefully parsed Yahoo’s statement, line by line, in order to highlight the fact that Yahoo has not in fact denied receiving court orders under 50 USC 1881a (AKA FISA Section 702) for massive amounts of communications data.

Google’s Chief Architect on PRISM 

Yonatan Zunger:

If it had, even if I couldn’t talk about it, in all likelihood I would no longer be working at Google: the fact that we do stand up for individual users’ privacy and protection, for their right to have a personal life which is not ever shared with other people without their consent, even when governments come knocking at our door with guns, is one of the two most important reasons that I am at this company: the other being a chance to build systems which fundamentally change and improve the lives of billions of people by turning the abstract power of computing into something which amplifies and expands their individual, mental life.

Strong statement. And here’s Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond:

We cannot say this more clearly — the government does not have access to Google servers—not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box. Nor have we received blanket orders of the kind being discussed in the media.

‘Don’t Believe His Lies’ 

Lander Brandt, on making good use of Vesper. It’s the tag that sells it.

‘All the Leaks Are Wrong’ 

Special guest John Moltz joins me for a pre-WWDC episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. We start with WWDC speculation: Will there be new Macs? Might Apple release an SDK and App Store for Apple TV, and if so, would it require a new remote control? All that and more, including this week’s allegations that the NSA is spying on US citizens’ cell phone usage and Internet data. You’re going to love the ending.

Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:

  • An Event Apart: The design conference for people who make websites.
  • Squarespace: Everything you need to build exceptional websites.
Hoagies vs. Subs 

We have a different name because we make a different sandwich. A true Philly hoagie is so much better than a “sub”, it’s not even funny. We’re famous for the cheesesteak, but the Philly hoagie is just as great. (Sarcone’s is the best; Primo’s are excellent too.)

Marco Arment on Vesper 

Marco Arment:

From the outside, then, it’s easy to be dismissive or even resentful: How can these guys launch a relatively expensive text-note app that’s missing so many features of competing text-note apps?

Balls.

It takes balls to release an iOS app in 2013 for $4.99.

It takes balls to enter this extremely crowded category.

It takes balls to release a note-shoebox app in 2013 that has no sync, import, or export.

It takes balls to name your note-shoebox app after a cocktail nobody has heard of, then to age-rate the app “12+ for mild alcohol references” just so the cocktail’s recipe can be included in the Credits screen.

Federico Viticci on Vesper 

An astute review of the app, and an interview with yours truly at the end:

Federico Viticci: In a talk you gave at Macworld in January 2009, you mentioned how you didn’t work well with other people in a team. Fast forward to 2013, you have teamed up with Brent and Dave for Vesper. What’s changed?

John Gruber: Great question. I’m not sure what my exact words were then, but the way I’d put it now is that I don’t work well with people I don’t like, or with people who don’t seem to get what I want. […] The three of us make a good team, that’s the difference. The big thing is that all three of us are willing to try anything, and to take however long it takes to get it right. Iterate, iterate, iterate; over, and over, and over. Dave designed certain elements of Vesper dozens of times. Brent implemented many of the features and animated transitions numerous times, just so we could try different designs and see what they really felt like each way. And not only did neither of them mind this, they loved it. Brent even devised a custom framework for the app to provide us with CSS-like tweaking for things like layout, color, and animation timings.

Jason Snell on Vesper 

Jason Snell:

It’s simple enough not to get in my way with a lot of fiddly organizational features, but provides me with more structure than something like the Notes app. Tagging notes made a lot of sense — I immediately made Work, Writing, and Recipes tags. I commingled work notes, ideas for my novel, a favorite recipe for buttermilk biscuits, and an idea for my podcast without any trouble. Once I started treating it as the iPhone equivalent of a small paper notebook tucked into a pocket, it all began to fit.

Yours truly, in an interview with Snell:

“Bond’s gadgets have always been at the intersection of utility and elegance,” Gruber said. “That’s as good a motto for a software company as any.”

LaunchBar 5.5: Introducing Snippets 

Nifty new feature in one of my all-time favorite Mac apps.

Verizon and the NSA: The Problem With Metadata 

Jane Mayer:

The gist of the defense was that, in contrast to what took place under the Bush Administration, this form of secret domestic surveillance was legitimate because Congress had authorized it, and the judicial branch had ratified it, and the actual words spoken by one American to another were still private. So how bad could it be?

The answer, according to the mathematician and former Sun Microsystems engineer Susan Landau, whom I interviewed while reporting on the plight of the former N.S.A. whistleblower Thomas Drake and who is also the author of Surveillance or Security?, is that it’s worse than many might think.

“The public doesn’t understand,” she told me, speaking about so-called metadata. “It’s much more intrusive than content.” She explained that the government can learn immense amounts of proprietary information by studying “who you call, and who they call. If you can track that, you know exactly what is happening — you don’t need the content.”

President Obama’s Dragnet 

The New York Times:

The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.

Google Glass Banned From Google Shareholder Meeting 

Matt Clinch, CNBC:

Tight security restrictions at Thursday’s Google shareholder meeting led even the company’s much-hyped Google Glass technology to be banned, infuriating a consumer watchdog group who accused the tech giant of hypocrisy.

Eric Schmidt, back in 2009:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Washington Post Backtracks on Claim Tech Companies ‘Participate Knowingly’ in NSA Data Collection 

Jon Russell, writing for The Next Web:

The Post previously claimed that Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple ”participate knowingly”. The phrase that stood out in the report (it has been repurposed by numerous tech blogs and news sites across the Web) since it suggested that US firms willingly agreed to a process that — at best — could violate the rights of millions in the US if their data is accidentally monitored by the NSA.

Hours after the news broke, and every company bar PalTalk and AOL denied any knowledge of the program and allegations of their involvement, the Post has changed its stance. The phrase ”participate knowingly” has been removed from the article, a new passage suggests the firms were unaware of PRISM.

How Q Branch Works Together 

Brent Simmons:

Since I’m always interested in hearing what other teams use to work together and ship their software, I figure I should list what we use to work together on Vesper.

The short answer: Mercurial, Bitbucket, Glassboard, Lighthouse, and HockeyApp.

I’ll add one more: iMessage. Brent didn’t use it, but Wiskus and I exchanged thousands of messages to collaborate on the design.

The Talk Show, Live, Next Week in San Francisco 

Speaking of podcasts, I’m doing a live episode of The Talk Show this coming Tuesday in San Francisco, during WWDC. The first batch of tickets sold out, but we just put another 150 on sale. Grab them while they’re hot.

Debug 15: Simmons, Wiskus, Gruber, and Vesper 

Guy English and Rene Ritchie were both beta testers of Vesper; a few days ago they had Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and me on their podcast, Debug, to talk about Vesper. We talk about almost everything: how we collaborated, the tools we used, “flat” design, accessibility, app pricing, and more. Oh, and Mad Men. It was a lot of fun.

Vesper 

Six months ago Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and I formed a new company, Q Branch, and went to work on an iPhone app. Today we shipped.

Vesper is a simple and elegant tool for collecting your thoughts. I’ve been using it all day, every day for months now. I think you’ll like it.

Apple Is Not Throttling iPhone or iPad Cellular Throughput via Carrier Bundles 

Brian Klug, writing for AnandTech:

Yesterday there were some allegations made about whether Apple is intentionally throttling cellular data throughput on iPhones and iPads via some files used for network provisioning. The original source post has since been deleted, so I am linking to the always-awesome Tmonews instead. The reality is that this is simply not the case. […]

There’s no arbitrary capping of UE Category (User Equipment speed category), throttling on-device, or anything else that would prevent the device from attaching and taking full advantage of whatever the network wants to handshake with. If you’re going to read anything, just take that away with you, as the full explanation gets technical fast. If you’re willing, however, let’s walk through it.

Good news.

Reuters: Apple to Sell Audio Ads on Streaming Music Service 

Poornima Gupta, reporting for Reuters:

Apple Inc is gearing up to sell audio ads on a music-streaming service it intends to unveil at its developers conference next week, according to people familiar with the plan, going up against Google Inc and Pandora Media Inc in the increasingly competitive market for mobile tunes.

So Google’s streaming music is a paid service, and Apple’s is going to be free with ads. Got it. Wait, what?

Understanding App Store Pricing 

Michael Jurewitz, in part one of his excellent series on App Store pricing, compared the prices of apps in the Top Paid (most downloads) vs. Top Grossing (most revenue) in the Mac App Store:

It would seem there really is a substantial difference between this data. In fact, if we take a look at the percentages, apps on the Top Grossing list are, on average, 294% more expensive than apps on the Top Paid list. Meanwhile, the median price of an app on the Top Grossing list (again, the middle of the dataset) is 329% more expensive than the Top Paid list.

The whole series is worth reading, and his talk on the subject from Çingleton Deux serves as a great summary. If I made an app, I’d study his advice closely.

‘I’m Not Comfortable Discussing the Contents of That Meeting.’ 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

“I’m not comfortable discussing the contents of that meeting.”

That’s what Russell Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content, said when asked in court Friday about a meeting he attended in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Seattle boathouse on Sunday Jan. 24, 2010. It was the only question in more than four hours of testimony that Grandinetti declined to answer. […]

Although Grandinetti wouldn’t say anything about the meeting in Bezos’ boathouse — not even if Bezos attended it — documents presented into evidence showed that the next day, Jan. 25, Amazon began developing its own terms for an agency contract.

I don’t get it. If he’s under oath, how does he get to just decline to answer questions?

Bing Translator 

Microsoft:

The Bing Translator app is based on years of Microsoft Research’s investments in advancing machine learning — a way to find patterns that humans can’t see, helping people interpret the words and worlds around them.

Translating content whether browsed, typed or scanned is nearly instantaneous. Just point your device’s camera at printed text and watch as the translation is automatically overlaid over the video stream — creating subtitles for everyday life. You can also type to translate with your keyboard and hear translations spoken with a native speaker’s accent.

Seems like something Siri should do.

Matthew Modine in The Loop Magazine 

Not a story about Matthew Modine — a story by Matthew Modine, including one of his on-the-set photos from Full Metal Jacket.

‘Topping the Charts and Racing to the Bottom’ 

John August wants Apple to eliminate the “top charts” from the App Store:

These lists — a sidebar in iTunes, a tab on the App Store — show what’s downloaded the most. But let’s not mistake downloads for popularity. These are apps that people may have downloaded, used once, then deleted. What you really want is a list that shows what apps that people like you are using and enjoying. That’s the kind of information that companies like Amazon and Netflix are terrific at leveraging.

‘A $5 App Isn’t Expensive’ 

Lex Friedman, writing for Macworld:

But, to a certain extent, it’s become a catch-22: Developers are pricing their apps too cheaply, because that’s what they think people will actually pay. And so long as they’re right, we as cheap customers are having a negative impact on a lot of both real and potential businesses.

How to Ask Tim Cook Questions 

Matthew Panzarino, on Tim Cook’s “he didn’t really say much” appearance at D11:

But these days they’re almost beholden to ask the ‘what’s next’ questions that everyone expects every year. If they don’t ask them, everyone will complain about them not doing so, and yet everyone complains when the same questions get the same non-answers. It’s got to be a tough position to be in. But my feeling on this, and I think that it’s shared by people both inside and outside of Apple, is that it’s time to start asking him better stuff.

The result of this can be seen in a series of videos from Cook’s visit to the Duke Fuqua School of Business that he filmed in April but were released just this week. The clips are a must watch. Cook talks about what he wants in employees, how to lead, how to collaborate and touches on several other great topics. There’s very little Apple specific stuff, though he mentions the company, but there’s a bunch of really interesting philosophical and tactical information that I’ve never heard him speak about anywhere else.

Asking Tim Cook (or any other Apple executive) questions you know he isn’t going to answer isn’t being a “tough” journalist. It’s just a waste of time and a rare opportunity. Sure, ask him up front if he’s willing to talk about upcoming Apple products, get his “no” on the record. But then move on to questions he might actually answer.

The Guardian: NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Americans Daily 

Glenn Greenwald:

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk — regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

Brutal. And especially galling from a president who was a constitutional law scholar.

Joe Brown: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint Throttle iPhone Data Speeds 

But T-Mobile does not.

Update: Brian Klug of AnandTech investigated Brown’s claims, and found them to be false.

‘A Grain of Salt’ 

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT Bits blog:

“We believe Samsung on the strength of strong Galaxy S4, S III, and Note II sales surpassed Apple to gain top share of the U.S. smartphone market for the first time since the iPhone 5 launch,” said Michael Walkley, the Canaccord Genuity analyst who conducted the survey.

That may look like a milestone, but the report should be taken with a grain of salt. The survey doesn’t include Apple’s retail stores, where many iPhones are sold.

Who shops at Apple Stores? No one, right?

ComScore U.S. Smartphone Numbers 

ComScore:

138.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (58 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in April, up 7 percent since January. Apple ranked as the top OEM with 39.2 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers (up 1.4 percentage points from January). Samsung ranked second with 22 percent market share (up 0.6 percentage points), followed by HTC with 8.9 percent, Motorola with 8.3 percent and LG with 6.7 percent.

iPhone, “dead in the water”.

App Camp for Girls 

Indiegogo campaign to fund a great idea from Jean MacDonald:

App Camp for Girls wants to address the gender imbalance among software developers by giving girls the chance to learn how to build apps, to be inspired by women instructors, and to get exposure to software development as a career. Our goal is to grow our non-profit organization into a national force, with programs in multiple cities, helping thousands of girls.

I hope this project goes way, way over its $50,000 goal.

Stupid Calculation No. 1: Monophone 

Josh Orter:

Who among you haven’t wondered how many dried tears it would take to fill a salt shaker or how long it would take to sip an Olympic-sized pool through a straw? Doubtless, you’re similarly inclined to have contemplated the size of the screen that could be made if the displays were ripped out of every iPhone ever sold and combined into a single colossus. It’s likely still that you’ve imagined how it might appear looming above the Manhattan skyline. Wonder no more. Armed with pencil and paper, this exercise has been made with you in mind.

App Store Description Previewer 

Simple web tool from Bjango for iOS developers; gives you an approximation of where your app description will be truncated.

The Sketchnote Typeface 

Mike Rohde:

Sketchnote Text, Italic and Bold were built from hundreds of hand-drawn glyphs, and variations on glyphs. These added characters allowed Delve to create Contextual Alternates — multiple variations on each character which help recreate variations in handwriting and can be accessed with tools that support this OpenType feature, like InDesign.

One of the best handwriting fonts I’ve ever seen.

Apple Will Appeal ITC Import Ban on Older iPhones, iPads 

John Paczkowski:

“We believe the ITC’s Final Determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations,” Samsung said in a statement to AllThingsD.

Verizon Wireless Extends NFL Deal 

Matthew Futterman and Spencer Ante, reporting for the WSJ:

Next year, the National Football League will begin to show Sunday afternoon games from customers’ home markets on Verizon Wireless phones, adding more of television’s most valuable content to the growing inventory that users can watch on mobile devices. The league is already showing games from Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights on Verizon phones. Typically, only one game is played on those nights, while about 10 to 12 are played across the country on Sunday afternoons.

Verizon Wireless will pay the NFL $1 billion over four years, according to a person with direct knowledge of the terms.

That is nearly 40% more than Verizon agreed to pay when it signed the current four-year, $720 million agreement in 2010, a growth rate similar to what the NFL and other sports leagues have received in their latest TV deals.

Tablets not included, only phones.

Facts vs. the Law 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The first rule of law, goes the old lawyers joke, is that if the facts are against you, you argue the law. The second rule is that if the law is against you, you argue the facts. Based on each side’s opening arguments on the first day of U.S.A. v. Apple, it’s clear that the Department of Justice is leaning heavily on the facts and Apple on the law.

Camera Noir 

New iPhone camera app that does one thing and does it well: high-contrast black-and-white photography (reminiscent, dare I say, of the late lamented Gotham filter). I’ve been beta testing it, and gotten some good shots with it over the past month. A steal at $1.99.

The White House Takes Aim at Patent Trolls 

Julie Samuels, writing for the EFF:

Frustration with patent trolls, and momentum for reform, has been building for some time now. Today, the stakes got even higher when the White House announced that it was actively taking on the troll problem. This is big news, and not just because of the seven legislative proposals the White House recommends (more on those below). Even more important are the five executive actions the President intends to take with or without congressional help.

The news here is good.

‘The Banality of “Don’t Be Evil”’ 

Julian Assange reviews Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s new book, The New Digital Age, for the NYT:

I have a very different perspective. The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism. This is the principal thesis in my book, Cypherpunks. But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in “repressive autocracies” in “targeting their citizens,” they also say governments in “open” democracies will see it as “a gift” enabling them to “better respond to citizen and customer concerns.” In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the “good” societies closer to the “bad” ones.

The Geography of Tweets 

Love that spiderweb around Moscow.

Android Fragmentation 

Jonny Evans, reporting for Computerworld:

The BBC Trust today responded to a complaint the broadcaster favored iOS devices when it comes to adding features to its catch-up on demand iPlayer service for Android phones. This complaint was rejected because the Trust found “no evidence” to suggest iOS had been “unfairly favored.”

Instead of pro-Apple favouritism, the Trust found a series of quite logical reasons why Android lagged iOS when new features were added to iPlayer, mostly surrounding the “complexity and expense” of developing for Android.

The company also noted a couple of other logical reasons why developers dealing with limited time and budget would opt for Apple’s mobile OS:

  • Engagement is higher on Apple devices
  • Android is fragmented
  • Android development is complex and expensive

OK, but other than that, how did you enjoy developing for Android, Mrs. Lincoln?

Escalation Strategies 

The Macalope:

Where do you go when you’ve already turned it up to 11? That’s the problem pundits face now, after piling on Apple for months. First, we’ll see an example of someone bending the fabric of reality to get over that hurdle and then we’ll see how you can make an anti-Apple article with really no evidence at all!

Chicago Sun-Times Fires Entire Photo Staff, Will Train Reporters on ‘iPhone Photography Basics’ 

Depressing news. This makes no more sense than if they fired all their reporters and trained the photographers in “news writing basics”. They should be hiring more and better photographers, doubling-down on content quality.

Apple Facing Touchscreen Patent Lawsuit, Filed by Attorney at Apple’s Own Law Firm 

Joe Mullin, reporting for Ars Technica:

Court documents unsealed this week reveal who’s behind FlatWorld, and it’s anything but typical. FlatWorld is partly owned by the named inventor on the patents, a Philadelphia design professor named Slavko Milekic. But 35 percent of the company has been quietly controlled by an attorney at one of Apple’s own go-to law firms, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. E-mail logs show that the attorney, John McAleese, worked together with his wife and began planning a wide-ranging patent attack against Apple’s touch-screen products in January 2007 — just days after the iPhone was revealed to the world.

Jennifer McAleese reached out to numerous “troll patent” companies, as she called them, convinced that she and Milekic had an “excellent position against Apple” if and when they chose to sue. She e-mailed top patent lawyers at Google and Nokia, competitors known to be in patent clashes with Apple.

The whole time she was advised by her husband, a lawyer who had access to reams of confidential Apple data — but who says he never touched it. (Apple doesn’t see it that way.) Together, the McAleeses created “an indirect and covert pipeline” of information pumped to FlatWorld’s attorneys according to Apple lawyers.

One of the most bizarre patent troll stories I’ve ever seen.

Asus Transformer Book Trio 

Andrew Cunnginham, Ars Technica:

Asus has long offered a line of Android tablets that slot into keyboard docks, but at its Computex press conference it announced it would be taking this concept one step further. Its new Transformer Book Trio is a tablet running Android (an unspecified version of Jelly Bean, to be a bit more precise); when docked, it becomes a Haswell-equipped Windows 8 Ultrabook.

Next year’s model will include a kitchen sink.

NYT: ‘Apple Is Said to Be Pressing to Complete Deals for Internet Radio’ 

Ben Sisario, reporting for the NYT:

While it is still at odds with some music companies over deal terms, Apple is said to be eager to get the licenses in time to unveil the service — nicknamed iRadio by the technology press — at its annual developers conference, which begins June 10 in San Francisco.

Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV, whose songwriters include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

I get the feeling these music companies can’t keep their mouths shut.

WWDC 2013 App Hits App Store 

As this screenshot comparison shows, the evolution of this app shows which way the UI design wind is blowing.

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