David Sparks on Fantastical 2 for Mac ★
One of my favorite features with the new full calendar menu is the
infinite scrolling list of events. This is largely the reason why
Fantastical 2 took over on my iPhone as my main calendar
application. I really appreciate the ability to scroll through
future events and see what’s coming up and I think Flexibits has
cracked this nut better than any of its competitors. They took a
lot of those same design cues over to the Mac with this new
Lars Bak and Kasper Lund, Dart co-founders:
In order to do what’s best for our users and the web, and not just
Google Chrome, we will focus our web efforts on compiling Dart to
Chrome. Our new web strategy puts us on a path to deliver the
features our users need to be more productive building web apps
with Dart. It also simplifies the testing and deployment scenarios
for our developers, because they can focus on a single way to
build, test, and deploy their Dart apps for the web.
Matthew Weiner on the Final Season of ‘Mad Men’ ★
TV and film, in general… some of it is designed for escape,
designed to satisfy the lack of justice that we feel in everyday
life. We find heroes and we get to have the wish fulfillment of,
for example, a woman who has it all, who talks tough and tells
people where to go and, yeah, they fail sometimes. There’s not a
lot of that on the show. I give the example of how we try to make
it less abstract by making it more like real life: If a young man
runs into a beautiful woman at a party on Mad Men and she gives
him her phone number and he writes it on a piece of paper and then
he loses his coat, he will, on a normal TV show, end up figuring
out how to find her. On Mad Men, he will never see her again.
This is intriguing, too:
As far as I’m concerned, seasons five, six, and seven are the
sequel to Mad Men.
The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was ★
In the long run, though, I believe that the disagreements about
Jobs’s personality will have diminishing importance as future
students of technology and culture seek to understand what Steve
Jobs actually did, and how he did it. To that end, the lasting
value of Becoming Steve Jobs might have nothing to do with its
effort to be a corrective to the previous biography. Instead,
historians will appreciate the careful documentation of Jobs’s
professional evolution. The official thesis of the book is that
during Jobs’ so-called “wilderness” years, between his being fired
from Apple in 1985 and his return in 1997, the prodigal co-founder
gained management wisdom, patience and even a measure of tact, all
of which helped him take the company to unprecedented heights. Far
from a novel observation, this has long been the conventional
wisdom. But never has this narrative been so carefully developed
as in Becoming Steve Jobs.
‘Much of It Was Chutzpah and Self Delusion’ ★
Adam Banks, reviewing Becoming Steve Jobs for The Register:
My biggest problem with Isaacson’s biography was staying awake.
With Schlender’s, it was getting through a page without stopping
to note something illuminating.
16 Smartphones That Were Deemed ‘iPhone Killer’, 2008-2011 ★
Sweet, sweet claim chowder, how I love thee.
Yosemite: The Apple Conference With a View ★
File another one under “Conferences in a Beautiful Setting I Regrettably Have to Miss Because of This Detached Retina Thing”. The Yosemite conference has a great speaker lineup and an unbeatable location. (It’s put on by the folks behind CocoaConf, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is a developer conference.)
Amazon’s Not-So-Subtle Influence on IMDB ★
At what point should we become concerned by Amazon influencing the
IMDb ratings of movies that they would rather see portrayed in a
more positive light in order to sell content from Amazon.com?
Layout vs. Layout ★
Today, Instagram announced an app called Layout from
Instagram. It’s described as “a new app that lets you easily
combine multiple photos into a single image.” In 2012, I released
an Apple Editors’ Choice app called Layout that lets you
combine multiple photos into a single image. It was even named an
App Store Best of 2012 app. Is it just me, or does it seem
insincere for Instagram to release a similar app with the exact
same name only differentiated by the inclusion of their company
name? Do you think they’d be okay with me releasing an app called
“Instagram from Juicy Bits?” Neither do I.
It’s not quite the same thing, since “Instagram” is a trademark and “Layout” is not, but the point stands: it’s a dick move for a company the size of Instagram/Facebook to simply take the name of an existing (and successful!) app that does the exact same thing.
Update: In case you’re experiencing déjà vu, you’re not crazy. Just last year: “Paper vs. Paper”.
Google Changes Course, Intends to Implement ‘Pointer Events’ in Blink ★
That leaves Apple and WebKit as the lone holdout.
(Previously: “Why Google’s Blink (And I Think, Apple’s Webkit) Rejected the Pointer Events Spec” and “Lack of Support From Apple Scuttles W3C Pointer Events Spec”.)
Fantastical 2 for Mac ★
Terrific new version of one of my very favorite apps. The first version of Fantastical for Mac was more like a widget — the whole app lived in your menu bar, and excelled at quick natural language input and giving you an overview of upcoming events. Fantastical 2 keeps all that, but adds a full-fledged calendaring UI. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and it’s really good. I think Flexibits has nailed the way to do Yosemite-style design in a third-party app with strong visual branding.
‘Don’t Take a Flying Leap’ ★
Dave Pell, on this thing with news sites agreeing to publish their work on Facebook:
News organizations should not take that leap of faith. They should
not trust Facebook to deliver the news anymore than Facebook
should fear their ability to build a competing social network.
Yes, Facebook has built a large and powerful network. But they do
not know how to run the news business better than editors,
journalists and publishers. And they don’t have the same goals.
Facebook to Host News Sites’ Content ★
Ravi Somaiya, Mike Isaac, and Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:
Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next
several months, according to two people with knowledge of the
discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York
Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, although others may be
added since discussions are continuing. The Times and Facebook are
moving closer to a firm deal, one person said.
To make the proposal more appealing to publishers, Facebook has
discussed ways for publishers to make money from advertising that
would run alongside the content.
I can see why these news sites are tempted by the offer, but I think they’re going to regret it. It’s like Lando’s deal with Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
From the DF Archive: Big Fan ★
I don’t often post video to DF, but when I do, it’s good. (Just updated these to HTML 5
<video> elements — they were
<embed> tags with QuickTime content previously.)
The Shift-Option-K Apple Logo Glyph Is Not Cross-Platform ★
On the Mac, you can put an Apple logo in any text field by typing Shift-Option-K. This might date back all the way to System 1.0 in 1984. Some people use this to spell the name of products like Apple TV and Apple Watch. It’s super-common with Apple Watch, in fact, almost certainly because Apple uses the logo mark (that is to say, the Apple logo glyph followed by “WATCH” in all caps or, even fancier, small cap Unicode glyphs).
This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, it is not a standard Unicode character and almost certainly never will be — because it is Apple’s copyrighted intellectual property. You could argue that it’s the single most valuable IP asset the company owns. This means the glyph does not render on platforms other than Apple’s own. It just shows up as a “missing glyph” box or a space.
Second, the name of the product is “Apple Watch”. Even Apple spells it out like that in prose.
Third, as Nevan King points out, it could be misinterpreted as the Klingon Mummification Glyph. You wouldn’t want that to happen.
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Úll 2015 ★
A few tickets are still available for this year’s Úll, coming up at the end of the month. I don’t hesitate to call Úll my favorite conference of the year, and it breaks my heart that I can’t make it this year. They’ve got a killer lineup of speakers, and the event is being held at a beautiful venue in Killarney, Ireland. But the best thing about Úll is the attendees. It attracts an amazing, diverse group of good people doing fascinating work. If you can swing it, you should go. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
(I’ve spoken at Úll each year since it started, and I was set to return again this year, but had to cancel a few weeks ago. Long story short, I suffered a detached retina, and part of the procedure to repair it involves a gas bubble injected in my eye to hold the repaired retina in place. It’s dissolving, slowly, over the course of two months, but until it’s fully dissolved, I cannot fly. You know when you take a bag of chips on a plane, and it puffs up like a balloon when the air pressure changes? That, but my eye.)
The Talk Show: ‘All of Us Assholes in Journalism’ ★
New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Serenity Caldwell. Topics include last week’s “Spring Forward” Apple media event; the new Force Touch Trackpad for MacBooks, and the prospects for force touch in future iOS devices; and of course, Apple Watch.
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Dan Frommer: ‘Why Swiss Smartwatches Have No Chance Against the Apple Watch’ ★
Dan Frommer, Quartz:
Ironically, if the Apple Watch is successful — and has any
negative impact in Switzerland — it will be because Apple as a
company follows the same tight, vertical integration that the
Swiss watch industry does for its core product, mechanical
Since the 1990s, watch companies “have been making increasing
efforts to in-source as many steps in the production process as
possible,” ranging from individual watch components to retail
distribution, according to a Credit Suisse report on the Swiss
watch industry. “The manufacturers’ objective is to have the
greatest possible control over the entire value chain and to
decrease their dependence on external suppliers.”
The Mystery of Lê From Hop Sing Laundromat ★
This month’s Philadelphia Magazine has a good profile by Jason Sheehan of my friend Lê, the man behind what I honestly believe to be the world’s best cocktail bar, Hop Sing Laundromat. Worth checking out just for the gorgeous, evocative (and unprecedented, given Lê’s reticence) photographs by Justin James Muir.
Nick Bilton Shits the Bed With Pseudoscience-Laden ‘Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?’ New York Times Column ★
NYT public editor (translation from NYTese to English: ombudsman) Margaret Sullivan eviscerates Nick Bilton’s scaremongering column on wearable devices and cancer. Bilton’s column has since been given an “addendum” that pretty much walks back the whole piece. I think the addendum should be at the top of the story, though, not the bottom.
‘Swiss Horologists Are Well Positioned to Out-Apple Apple’ ★
Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg:
Swiss watchmakers haven’t really slept through the wearable-tech
revolution. They’ve been watching as others did their market
research for them. They can afford to wait: Export sales of
high-end watches last year totaled 13.8 billion Swiss francs
compared with just 3.1 billion francs in 2000. The industry has
time to ponder strategies, play with designs and selectively
choose from the new functions the Silicon Valley giants develop.
In other words, Swiss horologists are well positioned to out-Apple
Apple. They are beginning to introduce new products after their
competitors jumped in first. Swiss attention to detail can only be
good for the emerging wearable industry, which, even with Apple on
board, is still flying by the seat of its pants.
I don’t get this at all. Swiss watch companies may well be positioned to succeed with smartwatches, but it won’t be by “out-Appling Apple”. They have nothing that Apple brings to the table. They have no operating system. They have no developer platform. They have no expertise in semiconductors. If “Apple” is a verb, it means to own the whole widget, to “own the key technologies”, as Tim Cook said just this week. TAG Heuer partnering with Google for an OS and Intel for semiconductor design could not be less Apple-y.
The truth is that no other single company can do what Apple is doing with Apple Watch. (Maybe Microsoft, now that they own Nokia’s handset business? But even that seems like a real stretch.)
Apple Grants ‘Good Morning America’ Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Access to Secret Health and Fitness Lab ★
Expect a steady drip of such pieces for the next month, as Apple builds a crescendo of momentum for the Apple Watch launch.
Reviewing Apple Watch Without Having Used It ★
Christian Cantrell on the Apple Watch for ReadWrite, “The Apple Watch Looks Great — But It’s Going To Disappoint Lots Of Users”:
Another key issue: Apple lists an 18-hour battery. In the real
world, that likely translates into about 14 hours — especially
when the device is new and people want to show it off as much as
The watch’s complexity will also challenge some early customers.
Instead of the app grids and folders iOS users are accustomed to,
early adopters will face clusters of tappable dots that are, at
first, easy to miss with your finger. You can use the “digital
crown” (i.e., the scroll wheel) to magnify them, but it’s not
obvious, intuitive or convenient. Users also have to acclimate to
new inputs and interactions, including long-look notifications,
glances, apps, taps, force presses, and when to use the digital
crown button versus the side button.
Some users will deal with the learning curve, but others used to
Apple’s typical simplicity will likely find the watch overly
That’s an awful lot of judgment — battery life, usefulness, complexity — for a device that he’s never actually used. The kicker:
I still plan on pre-ordering an Apple Watch along with millions
of other people. But I can’t be at all sure how long I’ll stick
Google Ad for Android Wear ★
No functionality demoed whatsoever. The emphasis is on the variety of different watches available for Android Wear, and varying personal styles of the dancers in the ad. The slogan makes the target clear: “Be together. Not the same.” I’ve seen the same slogan on an ad for Android phones too. The message: Apple = conformity. Apple is The Man. Hilarious that Apple Watch is over a month away from shipping and Google is already painting it as the watch of conformity.
I don’t think this is going to be effective, but it’s interesting in the grand scheme of Apple’s history to see their products portrayed this way.
Paczkowski: ‘New Apple TV Set Top Will Debut This Summer With App Store, Siri’ ★
John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the
subscription internet TV service Apple’s been trying to get off
the ground since 2009 appears to be finally headed to market. And
now sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News
that a successor to its dusty and recently discounted Apple TV set
top box is headed to market as well. Apple intends to show the
device off at its annual World Wide Developers Conference in June
along with a long-awaited App Store and a software development kit
to help developers populate it.
Sources say Apple’s new Apple TV is a significant overhaul of the
device, one intended to undergird Apple’s vision of what the TV
viewing experience should be, and to raise the table stakes in a
set-top box market cluttered with barely differentiated devices
from Amazon, Roku, and others.
The “Starting from $69” slide announcing last week’s price cut was an unusually obvious (for Apple) hint that new hardware was coming.
(Point deduction for BuzzFeed for decorating the article with a purely speculative artist’s rendering. Let’s put an end to this — it’s misleading, and adds nothing. Why decorate a factual scoop with fantasy artwork? Update: BuzzFeed has changed the artwork to a shot from Poltergeist — deducted point now restored.)
FTC Report Shows How Google Skewed Search Results ★
Rolfe Winkler and Brody Mullins, reporting for the WSJ:
In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC’s bureau of
competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services
for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking
criteria and “scraping” content from other sites. It also
deliberately demoted rivals.
For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results
from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even
though Google offered fewer flight options. Google’s shopping
results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even
though users didn’t click on them at the same rate, the staff
found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not
been previously disclosed. […]
The report’s findings are at odds with Google’s descriptions of
its search practices. Then-Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, now
executive chairman, told a Senate panel in 2011 that “he was not
aware of any strange boosts or biases” in Google’s results. “I can
assure you we’ve not cooked” the results, Mr. Schmidt added.
Typographica: ‘Our Favorite Typefaces of 2014’ ★
Always a good read; lots of interesting work from small indie foundries this year.
Bumpy Pixels ★
Kyle VanHemert, writing for Wired, on haptic feedback as the new frontier in user interface design:
Apple showed its eagerness to explore this potential earlier this
week, with an incremental upgrade to iMovie that adds haptic
feedback for a handful of interactions. As explained in the
release notes, “When dragging a video clip to its maximum length,
you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the
clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into
position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is
also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer
when cropping clips.”
So much potential here.
‘I Can’t Tell You Where I Work, and I Can’t Tell You What I Do, but I Need to Talk to You’ ★
Daniela Hernandez, writing for Fusion, “The Inside Story of How Apple’s New Medical Research Platform Was Born”:
He was closer than he thought. Sitting in the audience that day
was Mike O’Reilly, a newly minted vice president for medical
technologies at Apple. A few months earlier, Apple had poached
O’Reilly from Masimo, a Bay Area-based sensor company that
developed portable iPhone-compatible health trackers. Now, he was
interested in building something else, something that had the
potential to implement Friend’s vision of a patient-centered,
medical research utopia and radically change the way clinical
studies were done.
After Friend’s talk, O’Reilly approached the doctor, and, in
typical tight-lipped Apple fashion, said: “I can’t tell you where
I work, and I can’t tell you what I do, but I need to talk to
you,” Friend recalls. Friend was intrigued, and agreed to meet
Great story. This is the best piece on ResearchKit that I’ve seen.
Tesla Can Now Resume Car Sales in New Jersey ★
Matt Burns, writing for TechCrunch:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just signed a law that
will allow Tesla to start selling its vehicles again to residents
of the state.
About a year ago, New Jersey started enforcing a law that required
vehicles to be sold to consumers through dealerships. Tesla
doesn’t play nicely with dealerships. It sells its vehicles
directly to consumers through company-owned showrooms instead of
independently owned and state-certified dealerships. So about a
year ago, Tesla stopped selling cars in New Jersey and the
company’s two showrooms were unable to offer test drives or
discuss sale information.
Nice outcome to this year-old piece.
Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google ★
Fascinating look from the WSJ at a 2012 FTC staff report that recommended filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google:
In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over,
the report said the company illegally took content from rival
websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon to improve its
own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s
sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s
reviews and ratings, the report found. A TripAdvisor spokesman
declined to comment.
When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, Google
threatened to remove them from its search engine.
“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and
did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to
coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also
sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search
to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”
The FTC revealed this report to the Journal by mistake:
The Wall Street Journal viewed portions of the document after the
agency inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of
Information Act request. The FTC declined to release the
undisclosed pages and asked the Journal to return the document,
which it declined to do.
“Unfortunately, an unredacted version of this material was
inadvertently released in response to a FOIA request,” an FTC
spokesman said in a statement to the Journal. “We are taking steps
to ensure this does not happen again,” the statement said.
Google Reportedly Preparing Android Wear App for iPhone and iPad ★
A few readers have asked about this, regarding my comments earlier today regarding the lock-in advantage Apple Watch has for iPhone owners. An Android Wear app for iOS could definitely be a thing — look no further than Pebble. But the integration between an iPhone and an Android Wear device would be limited by the constraints of what iOS apps from the App Store are capable of. Apple Watch integration is built into iOS itself.
Jason Snell, who’s worn a Pebble for two years, writing for Macworld a few weeks ago:
Unlike all the Android Wear watches out there, Pebble’s watches
have always claimed iOS compatibility. That’s true of the Pebble
Time, too. But in the past two years as a Pebble user, one thing
has been abundantly clear: My Pebble’s relationship with iOS has
been fraught with difficulty. I had to fiddle endlessly with
Notification Center settings to get alerts to properly display on
my watch, and since the release of iOS 8 I’ve found that more
often than not my Pebble has just silently lost its connection to
my iPhone — or the Pebble app says it is connected, but it
doesn’t actually send any notifications. Except when it does.
Meanwhile, Pebble keeps announcing new features that work pretty
well with Android.
Apple Watch and the World Wide Web ★
The point is, if Apple announced a computer with no web browser,
or a new version of iOS with no web browser, or I don’t know, a
new MacBook with no ports, people would freak out. Like the way
they freak out about everything Apple has ever removed ever.
And yet the lack of reaction, or even acknowledgement, that there
is no Safari on Apple Watch, leads me to believe that not only is
Apple right to not include it, but we are actually ready to accept
it: a wearable world with no web browsers.
Gucci and Will.i.am Unveil Wearable Tech Collaboration ★
Alessandra Codinha, Vogue:
The musician has joined forces with Gucci Timepieces on a
“smartband” that is completely standalone, which is to say
untethered from any existing smartphone or mobile device. What
makes it so smart? Well, it has the ability to make and receive
phone calls; send and receive text messages and emails; hold
music, maps, and your calendar; track your fitness; and even
possesses a “sophisticated personal assistant” activated by voice
command. “Wearable technology and smart devices represent a new
frontier for the fashion industry. It is very appropriate that
Gucci is leading the way through this collaboration with
will.i.am, as innovation has always been such an important part of
our DNA,” wrote Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri in a
Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge back in November:
The Puls is a fully independent smartwatch — it has its own SIM
card and doesn’t rely on being connected to a smartphone to
work. Will.i.am introduced it to the world on a stage at
Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last month in front a bunch
of devotees to CRM.
I got a chance to use an early production model earlier today.
It’s objectively the worst product I’ve touched all year.
Good luck with that, Gucci.
Gene Munster Claims Apple Has Augmented Reality R&D Team ★
Citing sources within the virtual and augmented reality industry,
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a report published
Wednesday that he believes Apple is fielding a small team tasked
with experimental work in the AR space.
Consumer oriented AR systems are likely ten years out, the analyst
said, but Apple’s purported involvement suggests it is already
plotting out the next evolution in computing. Munster suspects AR
technology could be as transformative to the tech landscape as the
For what it’s worth, I’ve heard about people getting hired for something like this at Apple. But it would be more surprising to hear that Apple isn’t doing any R&D regarding augmented reality than to hear that they are. Of course they’re looking into this.
Unscrupulous Website Ads Again Redirecting Some Users to App Store From Safari ★
Benjamin Mayo, on a rash of web ads that are redirecting people to App Store links:
This is Apple’s problem to fix, not an attack on the websites
shown. All of these websites use third-party networks that are
outside of their control — it’s not their decision to cause the
redirections. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the issue.
Update 2: Here’s a piece from last week from AraLabs explaining how this hijack works.
Update 3: Jason Snell, “Ad Networks, Redirects, and Assumptions”.
A ‘Real Watch’ ★
John McCarthy, reporting for The Drum:
Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive of TAG Heuer told Reuters at
Baselworld, a watch industry event in Basel, that his firm’s
entry will heavily resemble the Tag Heuer black Carrera: “People
will have the impression that they are wearing a normal watch,”
TAG has some great-looking watches in the Carrera collection, but most of them are decidedly masculine. Unsung among Apple’s achievements with Apple Watch is that no one else has a smart watch even close to the size of the 38mm Apple Watch — and most dwarf Apple’s 42mm model.
“Apple will get young people used to wearing a watch and later
maybe they will want to buy themselves a real watch.”
This is how watch collecting works. You get hooked, and start buying more watches. And then you choose between them based on your mood or the occasion. Not so easy when one watch is tied to Android and the one you already own is tied to iPhone. The best hope for existing watch brands is for people not to like wearing Apple Watch, because if they do like wearing Apple Watch, they’re not going to switch.
Google, Intel, and TAG Heuer Team Up on Luxury Smartwatch ★
In his announcement at the Baselworld watch expo today, LVMH
watches chief Jean-Claude Biver said this was his “biggest
announcement ever” in his 40 years of working in the industry. He
predicted the device would be the “greatest connected watch.”
David Singleton, the head of Android Wear development for Google,
added: “When I think about the watch, it’s always been a marriage
of beauty and utility. We’re going to do that with our
partnership.” TAG Heuer is set to handle design and manufacture,
while Intel will provide an SoC platform and Google will lend its
Android Wear platform and help develop software. The watch is set
to be launched by the end of the year, at which point price and
functions will be announced.
No details as to what the watch looks like. Not even clear they’ve started designing it. Smart though, not to let Google be involved with the design.
“The difference between the TAG Heuer watch and the Apple watch is
very important,” Biver said. “That one is called Apple and this
one is called TAG Heuer.”
TAG Heuer is a great brand, no argument about it. But there’s another difference: only one of them is going to work with iPhone.