Canvas From Campaign Monitor ★
My thanks to Campaign Monitor for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Canvas. Canvas is a brand-new design tool that makes it drop dead easy for anyone to create a beautiful — and completely responsive — email that looks great on any device. Responsive design for the web can be tricky; responsive design for email is really hard. Canvas makes it simple.
Gorgeous typography, retina images, and a flexible layout system all wrapped in a simple, drag-and-drop interface. Take one minute and watch their video to see for yourself.
‘Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended’ ★
The emoji standard has been extended with over 200 new characters. One of them is: “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended”. On this week’s episode of The Talk Show, Paul Kafasis raised an interesting question: Will Apple support this character?
I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’m going to say yes, they will. But it’s a damn good question.
Facebook Manipulated Users’ Feeds for a Psychology Experiment ★
William Hughes, writing for the AV Club:
Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that
they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an
attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional
state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale
emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The
Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how
Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines
which posts appear on users’ news feeds — specifically,
researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen
by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future
postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people
responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own,
thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be
transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is
great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point
about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having
their emotions secretly manipulated.
This is hugely controversial, but I’m only surprised that anyone is surprised. Yes, this is creepy as hell, and indicates a complete and utter lack of respect for their users’ privacy or the integrity of their feed content. Guess what: that’s Facebook.
“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” the saying goes. Fool me two dozen times — there’s no adage for that.
Withings Activité ★
Here’s a smartwatch that is truly nice-looking and well-designed. Not just in terms of how it looks (and it’s a very nice-looking watch, in my opinion, with unisex appeal), but how it works. E.g. it runs on a standard watch battery for a year.
Brad Stone Profiles Sundar Pichai for Businessweek ★
Feel free to roll your eyes at the headline, “Google’s Sundar Pichai Is the Most Powerful Man in Mobile”, but there’s some interesting backstory in Stone’s piece, including this bit indicating that Larry Page effectively removed Andy Rubin from the Android team:
“There was nothing ever personal,” Pichai says, when asked whether
he got along with Rubin. “We had a good sense of friendship,
though we weren’t particularly close, but we never had any major
disagreements. We had passionate debates about certain courses.”
He allows that their styles differed. “Andy kept a lot about how
he thought about things to himself. My sense is that at a base
level, that is how he functioned. Andy had a plan and a strategy,
but it was inside his own head.” Google declined to make Rubin
available for comment, and Pichai says he doesn’t consult with
At the beginning of 2013, CEO Page told Rubin he had to integrate
Android with the rest of Google. Rubin agreed at first, then
changed his mind and decided he couldn’t do it. He resigned his
position, though he remains at Google, working on a skunk works
robotics project. A person close to Google’s management says that
forcing Rubin’s hand was the most difficult decision Page has made
since reclaiming the CEO spot at Google three years ago. Page then
handed responsibility for Android over to Pichai.
Stone is a committed Church of Market Share believer:
By 2013, Android was winning the smartphone war but lagging in newer markets.
Android’s share of “smartphones” is impressive, but it strikes me as odd to say that Android is “winning the smartphone war” in a world where Apple makes an overwhelming majority of the profit in the industry.
Later in the piece, this sentence on smartwatches struck me as odd:
Google is racing against Apple, which will introduce its iWatch in
Just stated as fact, including the name “iWatch”.
‘Like a Girl’ ★
Great new campaign from Always:
Using “like a girl” as an insult is a hard knock against any
adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic
either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a
We’re kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls
everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond,
and making a start by showing them that doing it “like a girl” is
an awesome thing.
Remember Facebook Phone? ★
Mike Isaac, writing for the NYT Bits blog:
Facebook has long wanted to be a major part of how you use your
smartphone. Now, it looks as if the company has all but abandoned
one of its major strategies to do so.
The company has disbanded the team of engineers originally
assigned to work on Facebook Home, its custom-made mobile software
for Android devices, according to two people familiar with the
matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to discuss it publicly.
Wearables, Fashion, and iWatch ★
When technology companies look at goods that are built from the
outside in, they generally see irrationality and inefficiency, a
broken market just waiting to be corrected and “disrupted.” They
believe that they can engineer so much value into these items that
people will be swayed to buy goods built from the inside out, that
the promise that drives hardware and software — “adopt this and
benefit from its utility” — will convince people to upend their
sartorial habits. This is how you get products like Google Glass,
which assumes that consumers prize utility so much that they’re
willing to look like they have no interest whatsoever in having
intimate relations with another human being.
Remarkably prescient and apt, considering that he wrote this a few days before Google I/O and the blocky, ugly watches they showed from Samsung and LG. I’m convinced those things are dead on arrival. The Motorola 360 looks better, but I think only looks good in comparison to genuine clunkers like the Galaxy Gear and Pebble.
Here’s a simple question: Does the Moto 360 look so cool that people would want to wear it regardless of its functionality? I say: No way. It’s way too thick and oddly proportioned. And it strikes me as decidedly masculine. Thus I think it too is doomed.
If Apple is indeed making a wearable device that goes on your wrist, it should look like something you’d want to wear before you even see what it does.
‘Apple Might as Well Get Rid of Aperture While They’re at It’ ★
Yours truly, in my WWDC prelude piece:
To that end, here’s what I’d like to see: a ground up rewrite of
iPhoto, designed as a client for an iCloud-centric photo library.
You can keep all your photos on your Mac, but they can all be on
iCloud too, and thus accessible from your iOS devices anywhere
with a network connection. The goal should be to make it such that
an iCloud-using iPhone or iPad user will never lose a photo
because they’re lost or broken their device, nor should they ever
feel the need to permanently delete photos just because they’ve
run out of storage space on the device.
Apple might as well get rid of Aperture while they’re at it, and
focus on making iPhoto good enough for everyone short of true
professional photographers — most of whom, I think, have settled
on Adobe Lightroom. The writing has been on the wall for a
while. If Apple still sees the need to separate truly expert
features from the basic features most people need, they could do
something like make the new iPhoto free for all users, and sell
“iPhoto Pro” as an in-app purchase.
One of the things I heard at WWDC is that the new Photos app for Mac was started under the name “iPhoto X”. I think they abandoned that name because it carried too much baggage. The whole situation had gotten too complicated. iPhoto for iOS was ambitious but ultimately a failure — too complicated, too fiddly.
Post-WWDC, the way I hope Photos for Mac plays out is not that Apple offers a “pro” upgrade, but rather that extensions allow for third-party developers to improve image editing in Photos for Mac in a similar way to how they will for Photos on iOS. Photos for Mac will likely never be a true professional tool like Aperture was or Lightroom is, but it could be much, much more than a simple library. It could — and should — be something that works well for serious enthusiasts (a.k.a. “prosumers”) in a way that iPhoto never did.
Adobe ‘Doubling Down’ on Lightroom ★
Winston Hendrickson, Adobe:
Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and
the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see
a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device
workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue
to invest actively on the iOS and OSX platforms, and are committed
to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our
rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.
I’m an enthusiast, not a professional, but I’ve been a very happy Lightroom user ever since version 1.0.
Apple Stops Development of Aperture ★
Apple introduced a new Photos app during its Worldwide Developers
Conference that will become the new platform for the company. As
part of the transition, Apple told me today that they will no
longer be developing its professional photography application,
“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo
Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud
and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of
Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When
Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate
their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”
Seems like people are either not surprised at all by this announcement, or apoplectic with rage. It shouldn’t be surprising at all: Aperture hasn’t seen a serious update in years. The company is all-in on the new Photos app and creating a single cohesive iCloud-backed platform. I do feel bad for professionals with Aperture-based workflows and years of experience and habits, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Also worth noting:
Apple was very clear when I spoke with them this morning that
development on other pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro is
It’s a reboot of Apple’s photo software, not a move away from pro apps in general.
‘The Gunfighter’ ★
Hilarious, well-made short film by Eric Kissack. Find yourself 10 minutes and a big screen. (Via Michael B. Johnson.)
Avoiding ‘Sagan Syndrome’ ★
Nathan Taylor, Praxtime:
Recall from my previous post how we have three wildly disparate
time scales in play: millions, billions and trillions. Rounding to
the nearest 20, we have:
- Time for intelligent life to fill a galaxy: super short 20
- Time for intelligent life to evolve in a galaxy: moderate 20
- Time of universe to keep having stars: super long 20
The first perspective shift is to step back in time, and realize
the universe is very young. With 20 trillion years of star
generation ahead, the universe has only covered 13.7 billion years
or roughly .07% of its life span. Compare this to a person who
expects to live 70 years, and you’d get .07% * 70 years = roughly
18 days. So in human terms the universe is a three week old baby.
No wonder there’s not too much life out there yet.
I can’t get enough of this stuff. Big thoughts, in every sense of the word. (Thanks to Jesse Larson.)
Android Wear First Impressions ★
Steve Kovach, Business Insider:
I used one of the new Android Wear smartwatches, Samsung’s Gear
Live, for several hours Thursday, and my wrist hasn’t stopped
buzzing since I synced the device with my phone.
New email? Buzz. New text? Buzz. The thing won’t shut up. I’m one
of those guys who obsessively checks his phone, but this is too
much for me. Plus Android Wear ties in with Google’s digital
assistant service Google Now, which attempts to help you out by
notifying you about stuff it thinks you want to know about like
upcoming flights or package deliveries.
So there are even more things to look at.
This isn’t the answer. Instead of solving the problem of whipping
my phone out several times a day, Android Wear makes me nervous
and anxious from all this hyper-connectivity. If I’m to ever go
all in on a smartwatch it needs to be simpler than this.
The Fermi Paradox ★
Tim Urban, writing for Wait But Why:
SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization
dedicated to listening for signals from other intelligent life. If
we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent
civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are
sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of
attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array
pick up all kinds of signals?
But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever.
Where is everybody? […]
The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to
Type III intelligence, there’s a wall that all or nearly all
attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary
process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get
beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.
If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the
timeline does the Great Filter occur
It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this
question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter
occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare,
we’re first, or we’re fucked.
Great piece. (Via Kottke.)
Privacy as a Competitive Advantage for Apple ★
Rich Mogull, writing for Macworld:
Corporations generally limit their altruism to charity, not to
core product and business decisions. Apple likely sees a
competitive advantage in privacy, especially when its biggest
direct competition comes from advertising giant Google and the
enterprise-friendly Microsoft. Apple believes consumers not only
desire privacy, but will increasingly value privacy as a factor in
their buying decisions.
Plus, even CEOs and product managers get creeped out when the
government reads their email.
No doubt in my mind that Mogull is exactly right. Apple cares about user privacy, and they see it as a competitive advantage. Or if you want to be cynical, they care about it because they see it as a competitive advantage. Either way, it’s good for customers.
Apple Cuts Prices on iPod Touch Line ★
The least-discussed member of the iOS device family, but Apple has sold over 100 million of them since 2007.
The Elephants in the Google I/O Room: Glass and Plus ★
Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:
But even a stretch of presentations that had one attendee asleep
in his chair apparently wasn’t enough runway to allow a mention of
two troubled Google children: Glass and Plus.
Google+, the company’s attempt to unify its various products with
a webbing of identity and social, was barely, barely mentioned at
all during the keynote. Last year it took up a major chunk of the
presentation and the year before it felt like a Google+ plus Glass
keynote (complete with skydivers and biking on the roof of
Moscone) with a smattering of other stuff thrown in.
This year, Glass wasn’t even mentioned, and no presenters wore it
on stage. Even when the discussion turned to wearables — an ideal
time to work in its face computer — Google had nothing to say.
‘When a Tie Is a Win, We All Lose’ ★
Keith Olbermann on what’s wrong with soccer and the World Cup.
The Talk Show: ‘Oh Man, Soccer’ ★
New episode of my podcast, with special guest star Paul Kafasis. Topics include the ongoing World Cup and the sport of soccer, Google Glass, mockups of devices in rumor reports, Amazon’s Fire Phone, the New York Times’s profile of Tim Cook last week, Apple’s growth, and the agonizingly slow death of Blackberry. Lastly, Paul brings up a devilishly tricky question regarding whether Apple will support a particular new addition to the Emoji specification.
Google Design ★
By far my favorite thing announced at I/O today, this new set of design guidelines describing a universal design language for web and mobile apps is really very well conceived. This is the first time, ever, that Android has looked to me like a nice platform to use or to design software for.
Pre-Matias Duarte, Android was a horrid mess. Post-Duarte attempts at improving Android’s design were lipstick on a pig — taking something badly designed and trying to make it look better. This though, seems like a thoughtful, pleasing, ground-up design framework — something that finally feels like it came from the same mind that brought us the delightful WebOS.
If there’s a hitch, it’s that Google seems to be promoting this as a cross-platform design framework — a way to design just one interface for both iOS and Android. Google’s own apps for iOS already feel like weird moon man apps; now they’re encouraging third-party developers to follow their style rather than iOS’s.
Volvo and Honda Cars to Be Cross-Compatible With Both iOS CarPlay and Android Auto ★
Volvo answers a question I had about CarPlay and Android Auto:
Volvo Cars will also include Apple CarPlay interoperability in all
new models based on the new Scalable Product Architecture. This
will make it possible for Volvo car drivers to connect the most
widely used smartphone platforms directly to their car’s touch
9to5Mac reports that Honda and Hyundai systems will be cross-compatible as well.
Sony and PlayStation TV ★
The most surprising (to me) part of Google’s Android TV announcement today was that Sony would be integrating it into their 2015 TV sets. Why in the world would Sony agree to integrate what is obviously a direct competitor to Playstation TV in its own TV sets?
‘Sixth Time’s the Charm’ ★
Joanna Stern and Wilson Rothman, writing for the WSJ, take a look at today’s Android TV announcement and review Google’s track record with previous TV endeavors.
Eli Wallach Dies at 98 ★
Fantastic career. “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”
Google Introduces New Gmail API ★
Eric DeFriez, Google technical lead for Gmail APIs:
For a while now, many of you have been asking for a better way to
access data to build apps that integrate with Gmail. While IMAP
is great at what it was designed for (connecting email clients to
email servers in a standard way), it wasn’t really designed to do
all of the cool things that you have been working on, which is
why this week at Google I/O, we’re launching the beta of the new
Designed to let you easily deliver Gmail-enabled features, this
new API is a standard Google API, which gives RESTful access to a
user’s mailbox under OAuth 2.0 authorization. It supports CRUD
operations on true Gmail datatypes such as messages, threads,
labels and drafts.
Is this the beginning of the end for IMAP and SMTP access to Gmail?
Mike Wehner on Today’s Google I/O Keynote ★
Mike Wehner, writing for The Daily Dot:
Google spent a good deal of time talking Android, showing the
developers in the crowd some new UI elements they’ll be able to
use in future apps, along with still-in-development versions of
new software for in-car entertainment systems and TVs, named
Android Auto and Android TV, respectively.
Then came a string of demos that Google probably wishes it could
redo, including apps that wouldn’t load, a game graphics demo that
was flickering and repeatedly cut out, and a coding example that
had to be attempted three times before it displayed properly. It
was all very strange, and the awkward mumbling from the audience
whenever something broke certainly didn’t help matters.
After two hours of technical talk, with nary a mention of new
hardware or consumer-level software, the attendees began to get a
bit bored. It was at this point that Twitter briefly became a
strange meta-I/O, with dozens, or perhaps hundreds of attendees
hopping on their Twitter accounts to talk about how bad the show
was — while it was still going on.
I watched the live stream, and agree with Wehner’s assessment. After the first 45 minutes or so (during which there were some truly interesting announcements), the whole thing just fell apart. Disorganized, unrehearsed, and worst of all: boring.
Now imagine if Apple held a WWDC keynote like this, and the shit storm that would ensue. The reactions would be apoplectic. There’d be pundits calling for Tim Cook to be fired. On the other hand, the fact that Apple never holds events this bad, never wastes time or attention like this, is a huge factor why Apple keynotes garner so much more attention than those of any other company. They deserve it.
Medium Hires Steven Levy ★
David Carr, reporting for the NYT:
Medium, the online writing platform created by Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, has been something of a tabula rasa. Its publishing system and pretty interface has drawn raves, but as a media business it has been tough to pin down.
But Medium made its editorial ambitions clearer on Wednesday with the announcement that it had hired Steven Levy, an author and longtime technology writer who worked at Wired and Newsweek, as the editor in chief of an as-yet-unnamed technology site.
Mr. Levy, 63, will continue to write deep, long reports about the role of technology — perhaps broken up into smaller articles that will unfurl over days. He will also be commissioning articles from other writers.
Mat Honan’s Summary of Today’s Google I/O Keynote ★
Great summary from Mat Honan at Wired.
The Long-Awaited Switch to Android-First App Development Hasn’t Happened Yet ★
Looking at 119 recent Y Combinator incubator participants and Google Ventures seed investments, of those offering apps, more than 90% had iOS apps, about half had both iOS and Android apps, and fewer than 10% only had Android apps. Among those with both, their iOS app typically launched several months ahead of their Android app.
This seems counterintuitive, perhaps, given how badly Android is beating iOS in sales. And indeed, some smart industry watchers had predicted that Android development would have passed iOS development by now. One example: Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, wrote last summer, “The switch to Android first hasn’t happened yet, but at least based on conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs, it seems likely to happen in the next year or two.”
It has been a year now, but Dixon concedes in an email to Quartz, “I don’t think it has happened yet.”
He doesn’t think.
Yahoo Aviate ★
Android home screen replacement from Yahoo. They call it “simple” but it sure seems like they’re putting a lot of features into a home screen.
The Verge: First Look at the LG G Watch ★
Looks like a small phone strapped to your wrist. (Or a regular-sized phone strapped to Craig Hockenberry’s wrist.)
$229. Good luck with that.
This is the more valuable of the two things Google gave to I/O attendees on their way out of today’s keynote.
Update: Prior art?
‘As Best They Can’ ★
Android Police, on the “100 MB of free Verizon cell service for two years” rip-off for Chromebook Pixel owners:
For their part, Google seems to be dealing as best they can with
Verizon’s stonewall. Customer support agents at Google don’t have
any sway over Verizon, though they say that they’ve escalated the
matter. The text describing the free data for the Pixel LTE
listing on the Play Store previously read: “includes 100MB/month
of mobile broadband service from Verizon Wireless, free for 2
years.” That’s been removed and replaced with the following:
“This Pixel LTE is currently not eligible for any free Verizon
How is that “dealing the best they can”? Verizon didn’t sell these Chromebooks with the promise of two years of free service — Google did. You buy Chromebook Pixels directly from Google’s own Play Store, and until recently, when you did, they were sold with the promise of two years of free 100 MB per month data service from Verizon. Google can and should make this right by paying Verizon whatever it costs to fulfill this promise.
Update: Now Google is offering Pixel owners who were promised two years of LTE service $150 on prepaid Visa gift cards. That’s better.
Angela Ahrendts: ‘Starting Anew’ ★
Angela Ahrendts, writing on LinkedIn:
Also, trust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in
every situation; they will not fail you. Never will your
objectivity be as clear or your instincts sharper than in the
first 30-90 days. Cherish this time and fight the urge to
overthink. Real human dialogue and interaction where you can feel
and be felt will be invaluable as your vision, enabled by your
instincts, becomes clearer. In honor of the great American poet
Maya Angelou, always remember, “People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how
you made them feel.” I would argue this is even more important in
the early days.
An executive from any other company posting this to LinkedIn would be no big deal. But I’ve never seen anything like this from an Apple executive. Tim Cook’s Apple is opening up.
Leslie Kaufman, reporting for the NYT:
The New York Times and The Washington Post announced on Thursday
that they had teamed up with Mozilla to develop a new platform to
better manage their readers’ online comments and contributions.
The platform will be supported by a grant of roughly $3.9 million
from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes
innovation in journalism.
I have an idea that could save them $4 million: just get rid of the comments.
Bloomberg: ‘Apple’s Big iPhones Said to Start Production Next Month’ ★
Tim Culpan and Peter Burrows, reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple is ramping up on two bigger-screen iPhones, said the people,
who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. One
model will have a 4.7-inch screen that may be available to ship to
retailers around September, said two of the people. A larger
5.5-inch version is also being prepared for manufacturing and may
be available at the same time, the people said.
What are the pixel dimensions?
Is one of these phones a higher-end model than the other, like the iPhone 5S and 5C? Or are they two different sizes of the same-spec’d device, like the iPads Air and Mini?
Apple is getting ready for its annual unveiling of new iPhones,
with bigger screens beyond the 4 inches of its current iPhone 5s
after rivals including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp.
released smartphones with displays that are as large as 5.7
inches. Consumers have been gravitating toward larger-screen
devices — in China, 40 percent of mobile gadgets based on Google
Inc.’s Android operating system that were sold in 2014 had display
sizes of more than 5 inches, according to an estimate from
What about the 4-inch size? Is there going to be a new 4-inch iPhone too? If the logic for Apple making a big iPhone is that lots of people are buying big-screened Android phones, doesn’t it also hold that they should keep making 4-inch iPhones, given the immense popularity of the iPhone as it stands today?
Most people keep presenting this as a “bigger is better” situation, and that Apple has thus been caught flat-footed and behind, and now with the introduction of bigger-display iPhones they’re catching up. (Insert a finally here.) But to me it makes more sense to see it as a situation where an array of screen sizes to choose from is better than one-size-fits-all. Why not keep the 4-inch size and add a bigger iPhone (or two?).
Rian Johnson on The Talk Show Last Year ★
Worth a re-link, in light of today’s big news:
Very special guest Rian Johnson, writer-director of the hit movie
Looper, joins Adam Lisagor and John Gruber for an in-depth
discussion of the film and the art of filmmaking.
Don’t miss the link to Johnson’s Looper commentary track.
Rian Johnson to Write and Direct ‘Star Wars’ Episodes 8 and 9 ★
Looper was so smart and fun — this is great news for the franchise. Johnson’s only public statement so far is this tweet, which is just perfect.
LaunchBar 6 ★
Great update to one of my very favorite Mac apps. Lots of new stuff, including a beautiful new appearance. My favorite new feature is the as-you-type web search results from Google, DuckDuckGo, and more.
See also: Shawn Blanc’s review of LaunchBar 6 for Macworld.
WSJ: ‘Apple Plans Multiple Designs for Smartwatch’ ★
Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk, reporting for the WSJ:
Apple Inc. is planning multiple versions of a smartwatch likely to
be launched in the fall, people familiar with the matter said, as
the company tries to counter wearable devices from Google Inc.,
Samsung Electronics Co. and others.
Really? Apple is “trying to counter” Google Glass and the Galaxy Gear? OK.
The new wrist device from Apple will incorporate more than 10
sensors including ones to track health and fitness, these people
said. Apple aims to address an overarching criticism of existing
smartwatches that they don’t provide functions significantly
different from that of a smartphone, said a person familiar with
the matter. […]
Apple’s smartwatch could launch as early as October with
production to begin within two to three months at Quanta Computer
Inc., a Taiwanese manufacturer that has long been Apple’s supplier
for Mac computers, said the people familiar with the matter.
Quanta will begin some trial runs next month.
The smartwatch will likely come in multiple screen sizes, said one
person familiar with the matter. Another person at a component
supplier said shipments of the smartwatches are estimated to total
between 10 million and 15 million units by the end of this year.
The exact specifications of Apple’s smartwatch are still being
finalized before mass production starts, said people familiar with
Interesting, but it sounds to me like all of this information comes from the supply chain and manufacturing sources. None of these sources told the Journal anything that these devices actually, you know, do, other than “track health and fitness”. This is all really vague, other than the “multiple sizes” thing. Then the whole thing devolves into made-up speculation from “analysts”.
Amazon’s Whale Strategy ★
The question, though, is if the Fire phone is perfect for Amazon’s
customers. Just because someone loves Amazon doesn’t mean their
entire life is about buying things. And while it’s true that
Amazon has gone to great lengths to make the Fire Phone compelling
as a phone, it’s still an inferior offering as compared to a
high-end Android phone or especially an iPhone when it comes to
things like apps. In this respect it’s fair to compare the Fire
Phone to Facebook Home and the HTC First: just because people love
Facebook didn’t mean they wanted Facebook to dominate their phone,
and by extension, their lives.
Moreover, I was troubled by the faint sense of hubris in
yesterday’s presentation; it was 45 minutes too long and included
far too much self-congratulation and navel-gazing. We get that the
design process for Dynamic Perspective was hard, but that doesn’t
mean we care. More broadly, Amazon is a horizontal company: they
ought to be serving everyone. Having their own phone introduces
the wrong sort of incentives when it comes to Amazon’s efforts on
Android and the iPhone; it’s the same danger I see in Microsoft
focusing on both services and devices.
The Delighter ★
Penny Arcade on the Fire Phone.
Washboard: New Startup Sells $10 Rolls of Quarters for $15 Each ★
If today being National Martini Day hasn’t driven you to pour a stiff drink yet, this will. Jiminy.
(Via Chris Ziegler.)
Manual Camera Controls in iOS 8 ★
Joshua Ho, writing for AnandTech:
To be clear, iOS 8 will expose just about every manual camera
control possible. This means that ISO, shutter speed, focus, white
balance, and exposure bias can be manually set within a custom
camera application. Outside of these manual controls, Apple has
also added gray card functionality to bypass the auto white
balance mechanism and both EV bracketing and shutter speed/ISO
I’ve said it before and will say it again: Apple has become one of the leading camera companies in the world, and quite possibly the most innovative. The image quality from the iPhone camera is an ideal example of hardware and software being inextricably tied in Apple products.
2005 idea from Jason Kottke:
Pings would be perfect for situations when texting or a phone call
is too time consuming, distracting, or takes you out of the flow
of your present experience. If you call your husband on the way
home from work every night and say the same thing each time,
perhaps a ping would be better…you wouldn’t have to call and
your husband wouldn’t have to stop what he was doing to answer the
phone. You could even call it the “sweetheart ping” or
“sweethearting”… in the absence of a prearraged “ping me when
you’re leaving”, you could ping someone to let them know you’re
thinking about them.
Sounds a lot like Yo, except somehow Kottke’s idea seems nifty and Yo sounds douchey. (Thanks to DF reader Mark Ott.)
The Martini FAQ ★
Given today’s holiday, Brad Gadberry’s The Martini FAQ is well-worth a re-link. It is a delightful and comprehensive resource, and as I noted previously, I’ve never seen anyone so deftly navigate the gin/vodka divide.
In that spirit, as five o’clock rolls westward across the continent, may I also direct your attention once again to Jim Coudal’s Perfect.
‘Did You Put Fucking Zunes in Our Lockers?’ ★
A peek at Steve Ballmer’s Gmail inbox, from Justin Halpern at Grantland.
The Near-Death of Grand Central Terminal ★
Kevin Baker, writing for Harper’s:
Still unsatisfied, New York Central proposed in 1961 to build a
three-level bowling alley over Grand Central’s Main Concourse,
which would have required lowering the ceiling from sixty feet to
fifteen and cutting off from view its glorious blue mural of the
zodiac. This, too, was stopped. Foiled again, New York Central
resorted to plastering the terminal with ads and bombarding
travelers with canned Muzak, complete with commercials, over the
public address system.
Another day, another app pre-installed on the phones they give you in hell.
Apple TV as HomeKit Hub ★
Wouldn’t it be better if each home had a small, power-efficient, always-on, platform-agnostic, Wi-Fi-enabled computer that could talk to your devices both remotely and over a local network?
Yes it would. Clever thinking.
Loot Crate ★
My thanks to Loot Crate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that delivers cool geek, gaming, and pop culture items, ranging from licensed apparel to collectibles and exclusive one-of-a-kind gear. It’s like signing up to have a Christmas for yourself every month.
Loot Crate has over 150,000 subscribers already, and great partners like Marvel, WB/DC, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Random House, helping them delivery a unique mystery experience around a new theme monthly.
Each month you have until the 19th to sign up at 9 PM Pacific time — after that you have to wait for the next month. That means there’s a day left to sign up in time for June’s crate. Even better: use code “DF” and save 10 percent on any new plan today.
Facebook Slingshot ★
Ellis Hamburger, writing for The Verge:
At first, Facebook’s new ephemeral messaging app, Slingshot, feels
like yet another Snapchat clone. The free app, available now for
iPhone and Android, lets you take a quick photo or video, mark it
up with some colorful drawings, caption it with big white text,
and then fire it off to a bunch of friends. But then you receive
your first message, and you realize this is something completely
In Snapchat or any other messaging app, you can view a message as
soon as you receive it. But in Slingshot, you can’t view an
incoming “shot” until you send a shot back to the sender. “It’s
not just about telling your story, it’s about asking others for
their story,” says Slingshot designer Joey Flynn. In other words,
Slingshot makes you trade a photo of what you’re doing before you
can “unlock” the picture of whatever your friend is up to. Huh?
If they give you phones in hell, this is the sort of app that’s on them.
Lightroom for Your Camera ★
Stu Maschwitz on the new Lightroom for iPhone:
I’m a “serious” photographer. I have cameras with red dots and and
lenses with red rings. But I also take a ton of photos with my
telephone. Having the power of Lightroom running on your actual
camera is a major, important change to mobile photography. When
you snap a shot, or, more likely, a series of shots on your
iPhone, and then easily (even automatically) upload them to your
Lightroom catalog, where you can then edit, flag, and now even
rate them, with all changes synced to your master catalog, you
have a speed and power in mobile photography that will have you
rethinking your iPhone’s role as a “casual” camera.
iOS 8 Lets Apps Access Safari AutoFill Credentials ★
Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5Mac:
In iOS 8, Apple is making the process of logging into apps a much
smoother experience by allowing native iOS apps to access
usernames and passwords stored in Safari. The new feature, which
works by letting iOS apps tap into Safari’s AutoFill & Passwords
feature, will allow users to login to apps with a simple tap
rather than having to type login info. Imagine your username and
password are stored in Safari’s AutoFill for Facebook, for
example. When launching the native Facebook iOS app, the feature
will let users select from passwords stored in Safari to quickly
login (as pictured above with Apple’s demo “Shiny” app).
Nokia ‘Paid Millions to Software Blackmailers Six Years Ago’ ★
Finnish telecoms equipment company Nokia paid several million
euros to criminals who threatened to reveal the source code for
part of an operating system used in its smartphones some six years
ago, Finnish TV station MTV said on Tuesday. […]
MTV said that the blackmailers had acquired the encryption key
for a core part of Nokia’s Symbian software and threatened to
make it public. Had it done so anyone could then have written
additional code for Symbian including possible malware which
would have been indistinguishable from the legitimate part of the
software, MTV said.
After the blackmail attempt Nokia contacted the police and agreed
to deliver the cash to a parking lot in Tampere, central Finland.
The money was picked up but the police lost track of the culprits,
Beats Headphones and the World Cup ★
Esteban Israel, reporting for Reuters:
But soccer world governing body FIFA’s licensing agreement with
rival electronics maker Sony Corp means players have to take them
off when they are in World Cup stadiums for official matches and
Marketing experts say that probably only amplifies their appeal.
“When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime,
by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas
(boots) or sip a sponsored beverage,” said strategist Ellen Petry
Leanse, a former Apple and Google executive.
“Maybe more, actually — Beats isn’t a sponsor, so the message is
more authentic and credible.”
Pretty good ad from Beats: “The Game Before the Game”.
Pencil: Surface Pressure ★
Impressive use of the new pressure-sensitivity (really, more like surface area) APIs coming in iOS 8 this fall.
Amazon’s Fire Phone Pricing ★
Instead, Amazon has taken a somewhat surprising, more conservative
path, hoping its unique features — a 3D interface, Prime media,
free unlimited cloud storage, and Firefly product-recognition
software — will sell enough Fire Phones on their own.
This may prove to be a better strategy in the long run: pushing
the Amazon platform as an equal to Apple’s iOS and Google’s
Android, instead of trying to be a cheap player in an industry
that’s already getting commoditized on the low end. But it’s
perhaps a tougher sell today than if this intriguing new phone
were also competitive on price.
Very different strategy than they’ve taken with the Fire tablets.
Amazon Fire Phone ★
iPhone-like physical design, including the lack of logos from either Amazon or AT&T on the front face. Also iPhone-like in pricing: $199 to start, with a two-year contract, and $650 without a contract for the 32 GB models. The best feature sounds like the camera: f/2.0 lens (slightly faster than the iPhone 5S’s f/2.2) and optical image stabilization.
I would love to get my hands on one of these to see what it’s actually like, but my impression is that it seems optimized — perhaps unsurprisingly so — for making it easy to buy things from Amazon.
‘Magellan Was an Explorer. Chuck Yeager Was an Explorer. You Guys Have a Fucking Camera on Your Face.’ ★
Jason Jones of The Daily Show talks to Glassholes who believe they’re being wrongly persecuted.
Update: YouTube version, for those of you outside the U.S. who can’t get the Comedy Central version to work.
iOS 8 Beta 2 ★
Lots of improvements and fixes. Apple released a second developer beta of OS X Yosemite too. From what I’ve seen so far in my testing, both betas are in good shape.
The Talk Show: ‘Doctoring the Ball’ ★
Special guest Guy English joins me to talk about a slew of stuff from WWDC 2014.
An Introduction to HyperCard ★
1987 episode of The Computer Chronicles, featuring Bill Atkinson and Dan Winkler demonstrating and explaining the then-new HyperCard. I was going to joke about how old this looks, but realized I’m using a keyboard from that era.
Via Lessien, who notes that there’s still a place in the world for a tool like HyperCard.
‘What You Hoped Tony Gwynn Was Like, He Was Like’ ★
Keith Olbermann on the great Tony Gwynn.
Year One ★
Yours truly, writing on the Vesper Blog:
But before we get too carried away thinking about what we’re
working on for Vesper’s second year, we thought we’d take a moment
and raise a glass to celebrate the first one — and to thank all
of you for supporting our work. So until we sober up, Vesper is
available for just $2.99.
If you’re holding off on trying Vesper until we have multiple clients shipping, that’s perfectly reasonable. But there’s never going to be a better time than now to buy Vesper for iPhone. Someday, you’re going to want to be able to say, “I’ve been using Vesper since back when it was only for iPhone.”
How Apple TV Might Disrupt Console Gaming ★
The net result is that traditional consoles are about as far
removed from average consumers as they could be. There is clearly
a core gamer market, and Sony and Microsoft are fighting
ferociously for it, but no one is growing the pie. I think there
is an opening.
Imagine a new TV product, with two models:
- $99 with a full set of entertainment options, but no gaming
- $179 with a full set of entertainment options, plus gaming
Thompson is overthinking it with the “two models” thing. I think there’ll be just one model, $99 (or even less). The only upsell for gaming would be optional controllers (including any of the third-party controllers iOS already supports).
Games are just apps. There’s no more reason to make a games/no-games split with Apple TV than there is to make an apps/no-apps distinction with the iPhone. Maybe you think you’re buying Apple TV just to watch movies and TV shows, but the App Store is right there waiting for you. Just like how many people bought the iPhone thinking they’d only use the built-in apps (Phone, Messages, Safari, Music, Email) and now have dozens and dozens of third-party apps.
Thompson’s basic premise is sound though. The A7 will be a year old this fall; I bet Apple could put it in a $99 Apple TV. Combine that with the Metal API for graphics, and Apple TV becomes a compelling device for games.
Update: Thompson himself, one year ago:
Imagine a $99 (or $129) “console” with an optional $49 controller
and an App Store. That’s a lot of potential escapism, and a lot of
Samsung Galaxy Tab S First Look ★
The Tab S shares software DNA with the GS5, too. You get Samsung’s
usual Android 4.4 trimmings, including the tablet trick that lets
you put two apps side by side. (Samsung will also sell a $99
Bluetooth dock to turn the tablet into a laptop.) However, the
amount of preloaded third-party and Samsung apps littering the
homescreen is reaching unbearable levels. In fact, Samsung tells
me, there are even more preloaded apps on this device because of
the added promotional deals with LinkedIn, Marvel, etc.
Interesting to me that Samsung’s tablets continue to favor landscape as the default orientation.
But Samsung’s new SideSync 3.0 app seems worth keeping — at least
if you have a Galaxy S5 phone. When both devices are on the same
Wi-Fi network, you can remotely navigate the phone via the
tablet’s screen, transfer files between devices, access all your
phone apps, and even text and talk on the phone.
Watch Stern’s video to see how weird the interface for this feature is. When you invoke it, you get a virtual Galaxy S phone on the tablet screen. The idea is cool, but compared to the Continuity features Apple announced at WWDC last week, it seems clunky and narrowly focused.
Apple’s Game ★
This week Apple introduced app extensions into both iOS and OSX.
When a 3rd party app wants a particular kind of service (such as
photo editing), iOS presents the user with a list of other apps on
their device that have the desired extension. Once the user picks
one, the extension appears right within the 3rd party app so the
user can use it without switching out of their current flow. This
allows apps to interoperate in a controlled manner without
sacrificing security, privacy, and convenience for the user.
One of the interesting things about this is how the underlying
mechanisms actually work — the extensions themselves are entirely
self-contained apps in their own right. They are walled off from
all other apps — including their own parent app for the most part
— and are given a limited view of the outside world that mostly
only includes the data necessary to do the type of task the
extension was designed to fulfill. This means that the extension
apps are, essentially, entirely self-contained. As far as users
are concerned, their flow is relatively uninterrupted and they’re
able to do what they want when they want without iOS standing too
much in the way. It should just work.
Heber goes on to speculate, intriguingly, on what these changes might mean for Apple TV and gaming. In short, don’t think new third App Store in addition to iOS and Mac, think instead Apple TV as another device for the iOS App Store and existing iOS games.
The Problem With World Cup Referees ★
Joshua Robinson, reporting for the WSJ:
The world’s most popular sporting event uses a more democratic
than meritocratic process for choosing referees. While the World
Cup’s 32 teams must play their way into the tournament through a
grueling two-year qualifying process, FIFA, the sport’s governing
body, pulls referees from more than 40 countries out of a sense of
fairness to all of its member associations. It is similar to how
basketball’s world governing body plucks officials from around the
world to work the Olympic tournament.
It’s a contrast from the meritocracy that determines who
officiates the postseason for major U.S. sports.
So even if they’re not crooked, they’re in over their heads.
After a long, long stretch of not really even looking at Twitter’s first-party iPhone app, I gave it a shot earlier this week. With a fresh installation and default settings, I was simply astounded by the barrage of notifications the app was getting, prompting this rant on Twitter.
This piece by Christina Warren for Mashable shows how to control these notifications:
So what’s the solution? You might think — just disable Twitter
notifications on Android or iOS. But that means you can’t get
alerts you might want — like a direct message or updates from a
specific user. Fortunately, it is possible to refine those alerts
within Twitter’s settings. Unfortunately, accessing those settings
isn’t as straightforward as you might hope.
I consider myself a savvy user who is familiar with the various design patterns for getting to “Settings” in iPhone apps. I spent 15 minutes trying to find settings like these in Twitter for iPhone, and gave up, because I couldn’t find them.
2014 iPhone Photography Award Winners ★
Not merely great iPhone photos — great photos, period.
Fixed Soccer Matches Cast Shadow Over World Cup ★
Declan Hill and Jeré Longman, reporting for the NYT:
A soccer referee named Ibrahim Chaibou walked into a bank in a
small South African city carrying a bag filled with as much as
$100,000 in $100 bills, according to another referee traveling
with him. The deposit was so large that a bank employee gave Mr.
Chaibou a gift of commemorative coins bearing the likeness of
Later that night in May 2010, Mr. Chaibou refereed an exhibition
match between South Africa and Guatemala in preparation for the
World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event. Even to the
casual fan, his calls were suspicious — he called two penalties
for hand balls even though the ball went nowhere near the
Some dubious calls in today’s Brazil-Croatia World Cup opener.
With love and warm thoughts for the Meyer family.
‘You Forget to Lift Your Head Up to Appreciate What You Have.’ ★
Sometimes parents tend to get caught up in the minutia of
parenthood: the logistics of getting from one place to another
without losing your shit, the weary deflection of the 34th “why?”
question of the afternoon, and all the rest. At least, I know I
do. You forget to lift your head up to appreciate what you have.
Author Elizabeth Stone once wrote that having kids was deciding to
“have your heart go walking around outside your body”. Steve Jobs
put it similarly: your children are “your heart running around
outside your body”. That’s the truest sentiment I’ve ever read
about parenting; it feels exactly like that to me. Reading Eric’s
writing about Rebecca, a girl so close in age to both my kids, has
affected me greatly. That could be me. My kids suffering. My
heart, broken and dying. Imagining one of them…I can’t even do
it, the tears come hard fast, washing away any such thoughts.
The Color Purple ★
All the caring and all the medicine, all the prayers and all the
love from friends and strangers, could not stop this cancer from
claiming this child. Caught between horror and hope, all of us
watched as the Meyer family fought to save their beautiful middle
child’s life. They did everything that could be done to save
Rebecca. Then they did more.
Now it’s time to do something for them. Some little,
heartbreakingly inadequate thing for a girl who got dragged
into a fight no one could win, and stayed a pure, brave spirit
to the end.
I met Rebecca Meyer two years ago — our families ran into each other by coincidence on vacation at Disney World. I remember a very happy and delightful little girl.
Rebecca’s favorite color was purple, and so today DF goes purple, for Rebecca and for her family.
Facebook to Use Web Browsing History for Ad Targeting ★
Cotton Delo, reporting for Advertising Age:
But what Facebook is now enabling is far more expansive in terms
how it uses data for ad targeting. In a move bound to stir up some
controversy given the company’s reach and scale, the social
network will not be honoring the do-not-track setting on web
browsers. A Facebook spokesman said that’s “because currently
there is no industry consensus.” Social-media competitors Twitter
and Pinterest do honor the setting. Google and Yahoo do not.
“Google does it” is not exactly a badge of honor, privacy-wise. More and more, the entire advertising industry is turning into a threat to privacy. Advertising should be about attention, not privacy.
Facebook will honor the settings to limit ad tracking on iOS and
Android devices, however.
On iOS, they have no choice. Apple’s privacy controls are in the hands of the user, not the developer or advertiser. That’s why the whole “Do Not Track” thing for websites is a joke. It’s like putting a “Do Not Burgle” sign on your front door versus installing a lock. (And even if you do install a lock, you can’t trust Google not to pick it.)
Scott Hurff on the Improvements to Messages in iOS 8 ★
To me, this is the marquee improvement of iMessage, and the
attention to detail blows me away. Not only is Apple making
liberal use of new gestures here, it’s also embracing the radial
menu effect while creating a new native iOS design pattern. Whoa.
Those radial menus are pretty cool (and seem designed for one-handed use). I also really like the new recent photo picker when you just tap the Camera button.
A Tale of Two Apples ★
Criticism of post-Jobs Apple tends to run in one of two directions
(unless you’re the author of Haunted Empire and want to have it
both ways): Either Apple is doomed because it’s slavishly
following the out-of-date playbook of its former CEO, or it’s
doomed because it’s not following the playbook of its genius
As a close observer of Apple before, during, and after Jobs’s
tenure, I can tell you that the Apple of today is not playing by
the Steve Jobs playbook — except for the bit that demanded that
everyone stop asking what Steve would do. Tim Cook and his
lieutenants are immersed in the Apple culture created by Steve
Jobs, of course, but they’re applying that culture to an
ever-changing world — rather than going to the 2011 playbook.
Astute piece, all the more remarkable given that Snell wrote it before WWDC.
Red Sweater T-Shirts ★
Now available at Buy Olympia:
Susie Ghahremani has illustrated an adorable bear wearing a
charming red sweater for Red Sweater Software.
This bear has opted to not wear his mittens and socks for now, but
they are there, just in case.
Jalkut was wearing one of these last week at WWDC, and it’s pretty sweet. Just ordered mine.
Matt Drance on WWDC 2014 and Apple ★
That process began some time before October 5, 2011. It ended on
June 2, 2014. Josh Topolsky kind of said it, Ben
Thompson kind of said it, so let’s just say it:
This wouldn’t have happened under Steve Jobs.
The “Continuity” suite of features says more to me than anything
else announced last week, naturally blurring the line between Mac
and iPhone and iPad while still accepting each product for what it
is. Recent updates to OS X seemed intent on forcing iOS down the
Mac’s throat. Last week, for what felt like the first time ever,
the two were on equal footing: an Apple device is an Apple device
is an Apple device. This shot of creativity, connectivity,
integration, and inclusion points to drastic change from within.
When I wrote “Regime Change” in 2012, nearly everyone assumed
the title referred to the fall of Scott Forstall. It in fact
referred to the rise of Tim Cook.
Google Demotes Chrome Feature That Would Hide Full Web Addresses ★
Stephen Shankland, writing for CNet:
Google apparently has taken one step back from its “origin chip”
plan that would hide the full addresses for Web sites that people
visit with its Chrome browser.
On Tuesday, Chrome team member Peter Kasting demoted one aspect
of the address-hiding feature from a top priority to a
third-level priority. “The origin chip work is backburnered,” he
said in his explanation on Google’s issue-tracking site.
The new Safari on OS X Yosemite does pretty much the same thing. I wonder if Apple is going to stick with it. I have mixed feelings about it — I think it’s probably better for most users to just show the domain name, but I’d like an option to restore the old behavior.
Google Buys Skynet ★
Google Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement
to buy Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash, subject to
Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with
up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and
technology will be able to help improve Internet access and
disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in.
I’m sorry, Skybox, not Skynet. My bad.
Apple’s Cement Conference ★
So this was the way I saw WWDC 2014. A cement conference cheered
by cement enthusiasts but leaving Architectural Digest writers
asking what the fuss was all about.
Swift’s Ascendance ★
Paul Krill, writing for InfoWorld:
Both the Tiobe and PyPL indexes already have plans to accommodate
Swift. “A preview shows that its first rating will probably in the
top 20 by [the July Tiobe index]. Swift is a natural and
long-awaited next step of Apple,” this month’s Tiobe index
description said. The monthly index, which gauges language
popularity via a formula assessing searches on languages on sites
like Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, has shown Swift’s
predecessor, the Objective-C language, ranking not far behind C
and Java in language popularity in recent years.
If you went back in time to 2004 and told people that Objective-C would rank “not far behind C and Java in language popularity” in 2014, I don’t know that you’d find anyone who would believe you, even within Apple. iOS has proven to be almost unfathomably popular.
But the thing is, Objective-C’s popularity has nothing to do with Objective-C as a language, in and of itself. If anything, the nature of Objective-C has almost certainly hampered its popularity. It’s all about Apple’s platforms and frameworks, for which, until last week, Objective-C was the one true language. Now that Swift is here, and is a first-class peer to Objective-C for all of Apple’s frameworks and platforms, I think Swift will rise in popularity with amazing speed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swift ahead of Objective-C on these indexes by this time next year.
‘Do Your Work, Your Best Work’ ★
If you try to delight the undelightable, you’ve made yourself miserable for no reason.
How It Works ★
While Apple did, indeed, announce a health tracking application
and an API for partners to hook into, the interface did not match
up with our screenshots from March. The reason, a source confirmed
this week, is that Apple revamped the user-interface and dropped
the “Healthbook” name late in development due to the leak. While
the icon and interface is new, the entirety of the earlier
reported functionality and in-app graphics are identical. […]
As you can see, the icons for each data point are identical in our
March screenshots to the ones in the current iOS 8 build. The only
change is the overall interface, and many Apple employees that I
have spoken to agree that the original Healthbook UI is far
superior in usability than the current look.
Let me get this straight. Apple completely scrapped a superior interface to Health because Mark Gurman published screenshots back in March. That is to say, Apple cared more about the surprise of revealing a never-before-seen Health interface during the keynote than they cared about the actual design quality of an interface that will be used by hundreds of millions of iOS users for years to come.
It’s public knowledge that Jony Ive now oversees all software design at Apple. So in this scenario, we are to believe that Ive is so petty, juvenile, and impetuous — and more concerned with secrecy than design quality — that he either approved or himself demanded a radical design overhaul not because it was better but merely to have something un-leaked to show on stage last week. This, for a feature which was deemed worthy of less than three minutes of keynote time (68:30 to 71:20). Jony Ive.
(Another possibility: Health’s design was far from finished in March, and the intervening months of Apple’s iterative design process resulted in what we saw last week. Designs within Apple are never born finished, and often, if not usually, change radically before shipping. And though Mark Gurman is prodigiously talented, his youth has led him into the solipsistic trap of thinking that his personal perception of Apple — as a guardian of secrets — accurately reflects Apple’s actual institutional priorities, when in fact nothing, not even secrecy, trumps design in the halls of Cupertino.
But what do I know?)
Intrigue Regarding Katie Cotton’s Successor ★
And though there are at least two well-qualified internal
candidates for the job — comms veterans Steve Dowling and Nat
Kerris — Apple is also looking outside the company for Cotton’s
replacement. Sources in position to know tell Code/red that CEO
Tim Cook is overseeing the search, aiming to find some
high-profile external candidates for consideration. And he’s
paying particular attention to those he believes could put a
friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations
efforts. Hardly surprising, as VP of comms is a position that
reports directly to Cook, and he obviously wants to put the best
person he possibly can into it. But interesting nonetheless, as
passing over a pair of veterans groomed under company co-founder
Steve Jobs for an outsider could herald a big shift in Apple’s PR
strategy and its comms team.
I find this intriguing on two levels:
Who from the outside might Tim Cook bring in, and what changes would they make?
Who is Paczkowski’s source for this story? Surely there are only a few people in a position to know this. Either Tim Cook wanted this leaked, or, someone leaked this against Cook’s wishes. Either way it’s intriguing. The only reason I can think of why Cook would want this leaked is to cast a wider net for candidates — to spread the word that he’s at least considering hiring an outsider. Or, I suppose, to preempt the inevitable gossip once he does start interviewing candidates.
Update: A third level that I’ve been thinking about all day, succinctly expressed by Daniel Jalkut on Twitter:
@gruber Isn’t it also intriguing that after so many years of
top-level service, Cotton didn’t stick around to hire a successor?
Or that she left before WWDC, instead of after.
‘The Next Five Years’ ★
And then in two hours, Apple shut me up. They pretty much offered
a solution for every single thing I have bitched about over the
past five years. Extensions, CloudKit, a new iTunes Connect. And
Swift, an entirely new programming language that will likely power
the future of iOS and OS X development for years to come.
I came into this years WWDC fairly mellow to what would or
wouldn’t be announced. There wasn’t any anticipation or excitement
the night before. Just a standard amount of curiosity. After the
Keynote, I can’t remember being that excited since the
announcement of the original iPhone. They blew the roof off
iOS 8 Uses Randomized MAC Addresses When Scanning for Wi-Fi Networks ★
MAC addresses are used by both marketers and government agencies to track device location — this is a nice win for privacy.
iOS 8, WebKit Performance, and XPC ★
Mike Beasley, writing for 9to5Mac:
When iOS 7 launched, developers discovered that their apps with
built-in web browsers were unable to achieve the same level of
its own app, leaving third-parties with a slower version.
As of iOS 8, however, it seems that decision has been reversed.
engine that powers Safari. That means Google’s Chrome browser on
iOS will now be just as quick as Safari, as will the pop-up
browsers embedded in apps like Twitter and Facebook.
The real answer is about security. Perhaps the biggest reason for
engine is the use of a JIT — “Just-In-Time” compilation. Here’s
Wikipedia’s page on JIT. A JIT requires the ability to mark
memory pages in RAM as executable, but, iOS, as a security
measure, does not allow pages in memory to be marked as
executable. This is a significant and serious security policy.
Most modern operating systems do allow pages in memory to be
marked as executable — including Mac OS X, Windows, and (I
believe) Android. iOS 4.3 makes an exception to this policy, but
the exception is specifically limited to Mobile Safari.
What’s new in iOS 8 is not that a “decision has been reversed”. It’s that inter-application communication APIs — XPC — have been greatly improved. This is why we’ve got all sorts of new stuff: third-party keyboards, sharing extensions, photo filters, and a full-speed embedded WebKit. All very different, all enabled by XPC.
In the old days, things like this were insecure and dangerous: plug-ins executed inside applications. A bug in a plug-in could crash your app or create security vulnerabilities. iOS never allowed that. Now, with improved XPC, we have extensions that run as separate sandboxed processes. This isn’t something Apple tackled in the past year alone — they’ve been working on iOS XPC for years, but only now in iOS 8 is it ready to be opened to third-party apps.
Scott Hanselman on URL Shortener Redirects ★
I saw a URL today on Twitter to an article on Slate.com. It was a
custom short URL - http://slate.me/1h0svt8 but since I was
visiting it via Twitter, it was wrapped with Twitter’s t.co URL,
so I really started at http://t.co/sxSvcJnT2L.
When I visited it for the FIRST time, I got this lovely HTTP
interaction. That’s SEVEN HTTP 301s, count them, 7, before I get
to the destination page.
Slate is effectively doing the opposite of what I’ve done with DF short URLs.
(Via Michael Tsai.)
Zoom Replaced by Full Screen Mode in Yosemite ★
From Apple’s Yosemite design page:
Take the red, yellow, and green “stoplights” in the corner of
every app window. Not only have we streamlined their look,
but we’ve also updated their functions. Close, minimize, and
maximize are now close, minimize, and full screen, eliminating the
extra full-screen control and consolidating the window controls in
I seldom use full screen mode, but I almost never use those zoom buttons, so this change makes sense. It’s what most people probably expect to happen.
Update: The old zoom is still there, if you Option-click the green button or double-click on the window title bar, like we used to do with window-shading way back when.
Tomorrow’s Live Audience Episode of The Talk Show From WWDC ★
I just put another 75 tickets on sale for tomorrow’s show, where I’ll be talking to special guests John Siracusa, Casey Liss, Marco Arment, and Scott Simpson. They’re going to go fast — sorry we couldn’t find a bigger event space. Update: Sold out again.
Also: We have a last minute opening for a sponsorship for the open bar at the event. We’ll make sure everyone knows they’re drinking on your dime, and I’ll thank you heartily from the stage. We’ll also be sure you and your team get into the show. If you’re interested and can pull the trigger quickly, get in touch. Update: OK, all set on this front too.
Safari to Include DuckDuckGo as a Built-In Search Option ★
Safari now gives you more control over your privacy on the web. You can open one Safari window in Private Browsing mode — which doesn’t save your browsing history — while keeping others in regular browsing mode. So while you do your online banking privately in one window, your browsing history is still being saved while you surf in another. You can also now search the web using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you.
Update: Here’s the official announcement from DuckDuckGo.
‘Don’t Be Google’ ★
In the real world, outside the technology sphere, Google is digging itself into a deep hole branding-wise. “Don’t be evil” is now a punchline.
The Trick That Makes Google’s Self-Driving Cars Work ★
Google’s self-driving cars can tour you around the streets of
Mountain View, California.
I know this. I rode in one this week. I saw the car’s human
operator take his hands from the wheel and the computer assume
control. “Autodriving,” said a woman’s voice, and just like that,
the car was operating autonomously, changing lanes, obeying
traffic lights, monitoring cyclists and pedestrians, making lefts.
Even the way the car accelerated out of turns felt right. […]
But there’s a catch.
Today, you could not take a Google car, set it down in Akron or
Orlando or Oakland and expect it to perform as well as it does in
Here’s why: Google has created a virtual track out of
This is what I mean about these cars being a concept, not a real product. These cars are only real in the sense that a ride at Disney World is real. They’ve built a very clever Mountain View-size 25 MPH theme park attraction. Google could well be the company that eventually does make real self-driving cars, but they aren’t today. Who is to say that the cars they do have today are not to self-driving cars what the Microsoft Surface (the table-size one, not today’s tablets) was to touchscreen computing?
Show me something produced at mass market scale and price, which people can and want to buy.
Hail Mario ★
Kyle Starr, writing on his new The State of Gaming site:
Mario Kart 8 proves that Nintendo is deeply in tune with
generational gaming gaps. As our Link to the Past lover so
eloquently put it, the ease of entry to Mario Kart 8 iterates on
the tried and true idiom “it’s like riding a bike” with an
updated “it’s like playing Mario Kart.”
From the first race to the last, we would chuckle at my fiancée
incessant need to comment on how gorgeous the levels looked. Funny
at first, I couldn’t help but look closer at the imagery in the
courses. It became evident that Nintendo is unabashedly gunning
for Disney-level aesthetics; a tactic to win over most
We got our copy yesterday, and it’s so fun it made me not want to leave for WWDC today. (I’m worried my son is going to surpass me while I’m out of town.) The game is fun, familiar-yet-novel, and indeed beautiful. Oh, and the music is great.
Kara Swisher on Katie Cotton ★
Was she vocal when she did not like something we did? And how. (So
are Microsoft’s Frank Shaw and Google’s Rachel Whetstone, both of
whom can throw a pretty decent uppercut when they are not happy
with something we have written.)
That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business, even
if she was harder driving and, because of that, more successful
than most. As she once told me when we talked about her outsize
reputation in the tech press: “I am not here to make friends with
reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products.”
Right. Most of the complaints about Cotton from commentators boil down to Cotton having been really good at her job.
So let’s let her retire with some level of class, no matter how
many bare-knuckled bouts were had. Ironically, Cotton leaves just
ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where there are
likely to be some big announcements that she would have been
central to carefully and meticulously rolling out.
Interesting. I’d been wondering whether WWDC would be her last hurrah.
A Decade’s Worth of WWDC Keynotes ★
Harry McCracken, on his newly-relaunched Technologizer:
Once a year, Apple kicks off its World Wide Developer Conference
with a keynote presentation, such as the one coming up on Monday,
which I’ll be covering for Technologizer. Many people seem to
think they’re famous for involving Apple dazzling consumers with
an array of new products, to the rapturous approval of everybody
Which is weird, because that’s not the point at all.
Sure, consumers are watching, and Apple hopes that they’re
dazzled. But WWDC keynotes are usually the least gadget-centric
events which Apple holds, and even though people who covet new
Apple products pay close attention, they’re not the primary