My thanks to Web Designer News for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. It’s a great news site, sourced by designers for designers. Topics include tools and apps, case studies, code demos, inspiration, videos, and more. Sign up for their newsletter for daily updates, or create an account and archive your favorite posts.
Web Designer News has a clean, simple design and great content. Perusing their home page today, I see a bunch of posts that are right down the alley for DF readers, like this piece from Brand New on the merged Kraft Heinz Company’s “fugly” new logo. Check it out.
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, who covers the security beat for Motherboard:
I’ve been antagonistic with Apple products ever since I was a
teenager, when Apple used to try to shove its apps down my throat
(cough iTunes cough) whenever I just wanted to watch a movie
trailer on Quicktime. I never liked Apple’s walled garden and
“we-control-everything” approach, and I particularly disliked
Apple fanboys’ dumb “oh my god there’s a new iThing coming out”
reverence and hysteria.
So when the original iPhone came out a few years ago, I swore in
multiple heated discussions with friends and strangers that I’d
never buy an iPhone. Since then, I’ve only owned Android phones.
First a few HTC ones, now a Sony phone.
Well, I’m sick of it. And I’m ready to go to the dark side.
Edward Taylor and Julia Love, reporting for Reuters:
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook went to BMW’s headquarters last
year and senior Apple executives toured the carmaker’s Leipzig
factory to learn how it manufactures the i3 electric car, two
sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.
The dialogue ended without conclusion because Apple appears to
want to explore developing a passenger car on its own, one of the
sources said. […]
During the visit, Apple executives asked BMW board members
detailed questions about tooling and production and BMW executives
signaled readiness to license parts, one of the sources said. News
of the Leipzig visit first emerged in Germany’s Manager-Magazin
“Apple executives were impressed with the fact that we abandoned
traditional approaches to car making and started afresh. It chimed
with the way they do things too,” a senior BMW source said.
I’ll bet Apple executives were not so impressed with BMW executives’ inability to keep their mouths shut.
Averaging data from all websites tested, Safari won first place
with 6 hours 21 minutes of total usage, Firefox second with 5
hours 29 minutes of usage, and Chrome last with 5 hours 8 minutes
Basically, if you simply switch to using Safari instead of Chrome,
on average you could get an extra 1 hour of usage from your
This exemplifies what the “Safari Is the New IE” crowd doesn’t get — Apple’s priorities for Safari/WebKit are very different from Google’s for Chrome/Blink. Innovation and progress aren’t necessarily only about adding new features. 24 percent better battery life is huge.
As a heavy Apple user, I can’t tell you most of what is in Windows
10, but I can tell you that it now has a pretty awesome feature
that I would use the shit out of: the middle finger emoji (and
some other new ones, too). In my opinion, it’s quite
(Also interesting: Microsoft’s choice of gray for skin-tone-neutral emoji. I don’t like the yellow that Apple is using for neutral, but I’m not sure gray is better — they look like zombies to me. If you’re going to go with gray, perhaps the neutral emoji should be entirely grayscale, including hair and clothing?)
Have you ever wondered how famed Mac designer Susan Kare might go
about designing a pair of pixel art tits, or how ornery ad legend
Milton Glaser might handle a design brief that simply read
“cocksucker?” Now you can find out, thanks to a new booster pack
for the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, featuring
original designs by Glaser, Kare, Debbie Milman, Paula Scher, Erik
Spiekermann, and 25 more world famous designers.
Abdel Ibrahim makes the case for Apple to make a “smart scale”:
Over the past two years, we’ve seen Apple talk about Health over
and over again. The conversation started with the Health app on
iPhone and then got amplified with the introduction of the Apple
Watch. Both of these products do a great job of capturing
information. The only problem is that I have to rely on
third-party hardware to tell me what that information means. If
Apple is all about providing an ecosystem of great hardware,
software, and services, then making a scale that can give me an
output of all sorts of body-related information seems like a
My first thought when I read this was, Meh, who cares? But my second thought was that maybe something like this would be the modern-day equivalent of products like Wi-Fi base stations. If you think about it, Airport base stations are a weird product for Apple — small potatoes. But sometimes it makes sense for Apple to make small potato products that will help make Apple’s flagship products “just work”.
That said, I don’t think Apple would actually make a scale — that’s what HealthKit is for.
Windows 10 — which is out now, by the way — comes, as it used to
in the pre-Win8 days, with Solitaire preinstalled. The Microsoft
Solitaire Collection, in fact, which bundles the classic Klondike
with other familiar variants like Freecell and Spider Solitaire,
tracks stats and logs achievements, and will even have
leaderboards at some point. It also has ads.
You can make the ads go away, but, as you may have guessed, it’ll
cost you, and not just once: The Microsoft Solitaire Collection
Premium Edition is effectively a subscription service that goes
for $1.50 a month, or $10 for a year. The Premium version of the
game does away with ads, and also offers more coins for completing
“Daily Challenges,” and a boost when you play TriPeaks or Pyramid.
This exchange from a Q&A session Steve Jobs held at WWDC 1997 is a classic. You’ve probably seen it before. But it’s one of those clips that never gets old, and is always worth revisiting. Jobs’s whole response is gold, and, in hindsight, he lays out that the sort of thinking that has guided Apple in the 18 years since. Consider this bit:
“Some mistakes will be made along the way. That’s good. Because at
least some decisions are being made along the way. We’ll find the
mistakes, we’ll fix them! I think what we need to do is support
The way to build a great anything — a product, a company, a book, a blog, an app, a service, a movie, anything — is not to obsess over not making mistakes. That leads to paralysis. Try to avoid mistakes, sure. But recognize that you’ll inevitably make some, and create a culture and work ethic where mistakes get identified and fixed.
Update:Elon Musk: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that the
company intends to announce its next-generation Apple TV in
September, at the same event at which it typically unveils its new
iPhones. The device itself is pretty much as we described it to
you in March, sources say, but “more polished” after some
additional tweaks. Expect a refreshed and slimmer chassis and new
innards; Apple’s A8 system on chip; a new remote that sources say
has been “drastically improved” by a touch-pad input; an increase
in on-board storage; and an improved operating system that will
support Siri voice control. Crucially, the new Apple TV will debut
alongside a long-awaited App Store and the software development
kit developers need to populate it.
But, Paczkowski reports, it will not appear alongside Apple’s purported subscription TV content service:
While that service is most certainly in the offing, sources tell
BuzzFeed News that Apple does not currently plan to announce it
alongside the new Apple TV. “Late this year — maybe, but more
likely next year,” said one, seconding a June report by Recode.
One of the theories bandied about when WWDC came and went without any Apple TV announcements — no new hardware, no SDK — was that Apple didn’t want to announce the new Apple TV until the subscription TV service was ready, too. According to Paczkowski, though, that’s exactly what they’re going to do in September. My guess: Apple held it back for September to have something significantly “new” to announce alongside the new iPhones. Last year, that was Apple Watch; this year, it’s Apple TV.
Cory Weinberg, writing for the San Francisco Business Times:
Apple Inc. reached an agreement to rent about 76,000 square feet
of office space in the South of Market neighborhood’s 235 Second
St., several real estate sources in San Francisco and Silicon
The potential sublease is a modest amount of space for a company
with the world’s largest market capitalization ($705 billion) that
is constructing a 2.8 million-square-foot “Spaceship” campus in
Cupertino. But this would signify Apple’s first push into San
Francisco — piling onto the herd of Silicon Valley companies that
have wanted a taste of the city.
I lost a nice hat in this building back in 2006, when CNet was a company that mattered.
Special guest John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include bluetooth headphones, Apple Music and iCloud Photo Library, phone sizes (including speculation on the lineup of new iPhones in September), El Chapo’s social media intern, Apple’s stock price, Alex Gibney’s upcoming Steve Jobs documentary, and the new trailer for Spectre.
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Myles Maxfield, writing for the Surfin’ Safari blog:
Web content is sometimes designed to fit in with the overall
aesthetic of the underlying platform which it is being rendered
on. One of the ways to achieve this is by using the platform’s
system font, which is possible on iOS and OS X by using the
“-apple-system” CSS value for the “font-family” CSS property. On
iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, doing this allows you to use Apple’s new
system font, San Francisco. Using “-apple-system” also correctly
interacts with the font-weight CSS property to choose the correct
font on Apple’s latest operating systems.
Over a six month period, my colleague Luke Stark and I have been
studying how Uber drivers interact with the Uber app as part of a
research project funded by Microsoft FUSE Labs. Our research was
conducted primarily in Uber driver forums, and through interviews
with Uber drivers. We’ve observed that drivers across multiple
forums discuss the fake cars they see on their own residential
streets. One driver, who makes regular broadcasts advising
drivers about using the Uber system, even made a YouTube video to
show other drivers how the app sometimes displays cars that
Richard Lawler, writing for Engadget on Vizio’s IPO filing:
Vizio has made its name with impressive value-priced TVs that
don’t skimp on features (it’s also a leader in the soundbar
market, and has made attempts at selling tablets and phones too).
According to the filing, Vizio has sold more than 15 million
smart TVs, with about 61 percent of them connected as of the end
of June. While viewers are benefiting from those connections,
streaming over 3 billion hours of content, Vizio says it’s
watching them too, with Inscape software embedded in the screens
that can track anything you’re playing on it — even if it’s from
cable TV, videogame systems and streaming devices.
We’ve never heard of Inscape before, but as explained in the S-1
Vizio filed today, it’s based on ACR (automatic content
recognition) software licensed from a third party, and viewers can
opt-out of participating in it while maintaining other connected
features. That’s actually fairly common in modern TVs, and others
like LG and Samsung have already rolled out features based on the
tech to do things like integrate with TV shows, or display ads
based on what the TV is showing. ACR software recognizes the video
being displayed, matches it up and phones home the data. According
to Vizio, its Inscape platform can pull some 100 billion
anonymized datapoints from 8 million of its connected TVs every
day. That kind of data can be used for ratings, and is valuable to
both advertisers and content providers.
Why would Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal unit be hunting for new
media deals, and talking to companies like Vice Media, BuzzFeed
and Business Insider, as The Wall Street Journal reported
One explanation is that the cable giant is chasing young consumers
who aren’t watching TV as much as past generations did. This chart
illustrates the situation.
According to these numbers from Nielsen, among those 18-24 years old, TV viewing has dropped 32 percent since 2010. That’s the youngest group in the chart, but judging by my 11-year-old son’s habits, this trend is even more striking for kids. He hardly watches any traditional TV at all. Just YouTube, Netflix, and movies.
These videos are always funny, and always make me feel old. Very old. But this one also seems to suggest that a hunch I’ve had for the last few years is going to prove true: that the word phone — just plain un-prefixed, unmodified “phone” — is evolving to mean “a pocket-sized touch screen computer with a cellular network connection”. And for these kids, phone really just means “pocket-sized computer”, because they just presume the use of a touch screen and wireless networking.
iTunes is designed by the Junk Drawer Method: when enough cruft
has built up that somebody tells the team to redesign it, while
also adding and heavily promoting these great new features in the
UI that are really important to the company’s other interests and
are absolutely non-negotiable, the only thing they can really do
is hide all of the old complexity in new places. […]
I have plenty of plausible theories on why iTunes didn’t get the
iCloud Photos treatment — why Apple Music was bolted onto this
ancient, crufty, legacy app instead of discontinuing iTunes,
dropping its obsolete functions, and starting fresh with a new app
and a CloudKit-based service. (Engineering resources, time to
market, iPods, Windows, and people with slow internet
Exactamundo. iCloud Photos gets right everything that Apple Music gets wrong. Like Marco, I can imagine many reasons why Apple took a different route with music than the clean-slate approach they took with photos. I’m not in a position to judge what Apple should have done. All I’m saying is that the difference in results is stark. I understand the design and purpose of Photos (the app) on both Mac and iOS, and I understand how iCloud Photo Library is supposed to work. And, for me — and seemingly, almost everyone — that’s how iCloud Photo Library does work. You sign up, you enable it on all your devices, you wait for the initial sync to finish, and boom — now all your photos are available on all your devices, all the time. I don’t think this would have worked out as well if they had kept going with iPhoto on the Mac. They needed the clean break — both in terms of design and in terms of engineering.
My thanks to Bushel for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Bushel is a simple-to-use, cloud-based mobile device management solution designed for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices in your workplace. Bushel makes it easy for you to set up, manage, and protect your Apple devices — when you want, wherever you are. Your first three devices enrolled are free forever, and each additional device is just $2 per month, with no contracts or commitments.
Check out their website to see just how nice their design work is. Bushel is “device management” for people with discerning taste.
It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple
this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and
to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about
99 percent of my music back. […]
Apple said my music was never deleted and that it was in the cloud
the entire time. Before Apple Music, iTunes Match would show me
all of my songs — matched, uploaded, and purchased. However, if
you turn off iCloud Music Library and Apple Music, iTunes Match
will only show your purchased content now. There is no way to
separate iTunes Match from the iCloud Music Library. Before, you
would turn off iTunes Match — now you would turn off iCloud Music
So now I have the iTunes Match service that I pay for separately,
and Apple Music, both of which use iCloud Music Library. There is
really no way to get away from them if you want to use the latest
and greatest from Apple.
I’ll admit, I’m still trying to get my head around how this works.
As clear as mud how this all works. Why not make Apple Music a separate standalone app? Apple Music: subscription service with DRM. iTunes: music you own, no DRM.
From a new iPhone page, “Why There’s Nothing Quite Like iPhone”:
Also amazing? The fact that there are over a million and a half
capable, beautiful, inspiring apps on the App Store. And each and
every one was reviewed and approved by a team of real live humans.
With great taste. And great suggestions. And great ideas.
Yes, thank goodness for those ideas and suggestions from App Store reviewers that make our apps so great. And thanks even more for their great taste that keeps all but the best 100 or so Flappy Bird ripoffs out of the store.
Update: What irks here, fundamentally, is that Apple is taking credit for the great apps in the App Store, rather than giving credit to the third-party developers who make them. This plays straight into the widespread misconception that everyone who makes iOS apps works for Apple.
Some interesting graphs from Quartz. Amazon wins on growth. Walmart wins on profit — but we all know Amazon doesn’t even try to turn a profit. More importantly, Walmart’s revenue remains more than five times that of Amazon.
Apple leads the pack, but the pack is still a pack made up of
smartwatches. No one really knows how big this market is going to
get and how long it’ll have steam. Let me repeat that for
emphasis: No one really knows. So feel free to point and laugh at
anyone estimating the next five years of smartwatch sales.
Remember when Windows Phone was going to overtake
Good. Times. We laughed ourselves until we died and then we were
reborn, shiny and chrome.
Craig Hockenberry on the various ways Apple treats the Mac App Store as a second-class citizen to the iOS App Store: no TestFlight (which means no testing betas against production iCloud servers), no analytics, and, just to rub salt in the wound, they haven’t applied the new rule that disallows app reviews from users running beta versions of the OS.
I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the
inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the
App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of
our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same
functionality for that fee.
Low on spoilers, particularly by modern-day trailer standards, but I’ve got a bad feeling about where this might be going with the “chilling connection between [Bond] and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz”. Feels a little Luke/Leia/Vader-y. Hope I’m wrong.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick
in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it
took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of
the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have
access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple
Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t
care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.
A group of German auto makers agreed to pay slightly more than
€2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) for Nokia’s digital mapping service,
prevailing over Silicon Valley bidders in a battle for a key
enabling technology for self-driving cars.
German luxury car makers Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG,
Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG, and BMW AG have agreed in
principle to purchase the telecommunications group’s digital
mapping service Nokia Here, according to a person familiar with
Over the past couple of years, Apple has made a point–not just in
conversations with the financial industry, but also on stage at
media events–of discussing its efforts in China. The massive
effort the company is putting into China is certainly paying off:
While the last two quarters have showed 75 percent year-over-year
growth, Apple more than doubled its China revenue in this most
recent quarter, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Apple
isn’t just growing in China, its growth is accelerating.
With the Chinese stock market and economy being called into
question in recent days, it was interesting to hear Cook defend
the market to financial analysts. He made it clear that Apple
believes China will ultimately be Apple’s largest market. (It’s
already surpassed Europe in total revenue.)
From Serenity Caldwell’s transcript of Tim Cook’s remarks on Apple’s quarterly analyst call:
Sales of the Watch did exceed our expectations and they did so
despite supply still trailing demand at the end of the quarter.
And to give you a little additional insight, through the end of
the quarter, in fact, the Apple Watch sell-through was higher than
the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the
original iPad. And we were able to do that with having only 680
points of sale. And as you probably know, as I had reviewed
earlier, the online sales were so great at the beginning we were
not able to seed inventory to our stores until mid-June. And so
those points of sale, pretty much, the overwhelming majority of
the low numbers of sales were not there until the last two weeks
of the quarter.
On the Watch, our June sales were higher than April or May. I
realize that’s very different than some of what’s being written,
but June sales were the highest. The Watch had a more of a
back-ended kind of skewing.
So, either Tim Cook is lying and committed securities fraud, or, those reports about Apple Watch sales “plunging” — all of them based on that one report from Slice Intelligence — were a pile of crap. It will take years to judge the overall success of Apple Watch, but it seems pretty clear it’s gotten off to a good start.
Some analysts noted that Apple reported $2.6 billion in revenue
from the company’s “Other Products” segment, which includes the
watch. That’s about $952 million more than the previous quarter,
when the watch had not yet gone on sale, or significantly less
than the $1.8 billion in watch sales that analysts surveyed by
FactSet were expecting.
But Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press
that revenue from the watch amounted to “well over” that $952
million increase. He said the watch sales were offset by declining
revenue from iPods and accessories, which are also lumped into
While the company’s stumbles in smartphones have shown the
bruising downsides of the hardware business for Microsoft, it had
success with other devices, including its Surface tablet, the
revenue from which grew 117 percent, to $888 million. Revenue from
its Xbox game business rose 27 percent. In total, Microsoft said
it had nearly $2 billion in computing and gaming hardware revenue
in the quarter.
The Company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and
quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share.
These results compare to revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit
of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, in the year-ago
quarter. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent in
the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent
of the quarter’s revenue.
The growth was fueled by record third quarter sales of iPhone and
Mac, all-time record revenue from services and the successful
launch of Apple Watch.
Microsoft today reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of
its 2015 fiscal year and unsurprisingly, the massive $7.6 billion
write down for its Nokia purchase last year tanked any chances of
it turning a profit. The write down pushed Microsoft’s losses to
$2.1 billion for the quarter. Excluding the write down and related
charges, Microsoft’s other businesses earned a profit of $6.4
billion on $22.2 billion in revenue.
So the world of the near future is one of power constrained
devices in a bandwidth-constrained environment. It’s very
different from the recent past, where hardware performance went up
like clockwork, with more storage and faster CPUs every year.
And as designers, you should be jumping up and down with relief,
because hard constraints are the midwife to good design. The past
couple of decades have left us with what I call an exponential
The reality in media right now is that there is an enormous amount
of noise. There are countless outlets (both old and new) vying for
your attention, desperate not just to capture some audience, but
all the audience. And in doing that, it feels like there’s a
tremendous watering down of the quality and uniqueness of what is
being made. Everything looks the same, reads the same, and seems
to be competing for the same eyeballs. In both execution and
content, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the rat race
for maximum audience at any expense. It’s cynical and it’s
cyclical — which makes for an exhausting and frankly boring
I think people want something better, something more meaningful.
Something a lot less noisy.
Now that I understand what happened, and why it happened, I can
see that the process does make sense. Apple’s goal is to ensure
that all your music is accessible from all your devices. Mine is
certainly an edge case, but, judging from the number of emails
I’ve received, and comments to articles on this website, there are
plenty other people in the same boat as me. (Though that’s an
infinitesimal number compared to the total iTunes user base.)
We don’t yet know what Apple will reveal regarding Apple Watch sales in its quarterly finance numbers later today (and remember, Tim Cook said all the way back in October that Apple will not reveal Apple Watch sales figures, for competitive reasons), but in the meantime, Mike Wehner provides some useful perspective, by looking back at early sales numbers for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, with special guest Jason Snell. Topics include the new Pebble Time smartwatch, the “Safari is the New IE” argument, the state of web advertising (and its adverse effects on performance and privacy) and monetization, and more.
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A report from Clammr collected data on podcast listening
habits shows that iOS dominates Android on mobile usage. Despite
Android having a larger install base of smartphone devices than
iOS, the iPhone is responsible for the vast majority of podcast
listening. According to the study, 82% of smartphone podcasting
listening takes place on an iPhone with the iTunes Store podcast
directory being a significant reason for uptake.
In addition, despite the vast array of third-party podcast apps
available for the iPhone, the report says that over three-quarters
of users listen to podcasts on the iPhone with Apple’s built-in
native Podcasts app.
According to the analytics I get from SoundCloud, Overcast has a slight edge over Apple’s Podcasts app among listeners of The Talk Show. But it’s no surprise that listeners of my show aren’t exactly typical users. No other iPhone app even comes close to Overcast and Podcasts, though. Here’s a screenshot of the top ten clients by “play count” for episode 125, with Horace Dediu.
What’s funny is that the name “podcasts” stuck but very few people use iPods to listen to them any more.
I don’t know why developers holding back has to always be painted
as skepticism. Is Instagram still skeptical of the iPad five years
later because they don’t have an iPad app? Of course not.
Developing apps for a new product category takes time. You have to
think things through carefully if you want to create a good
experience. Remember, Facebook for iPad came out 18 months
after the first iPad which was available for purchase in April
The truth is some apps are just not going to be ideal on the Apple
Watch. This is not a smaller iPhone on your wrist. I’m not sure
why people — especially those that cover technology for a living
— can’t seem to understand that.
In fact, have you tried Instagram on the Apple Watch? It’s
terrible. It has no business being on there. It’s a worse
experience if you ask me.
This gem from 2012, where Chen explained that the iPhone 5 “couldn’t” support NFC because of its glass-front/aluminum back design. (The NFC-enabled iPhone 6 has a glass front and aluminum back.)
About the Linked List
The Daring Fireball Linked List is a daily list of interesting links
and brief commentary, updated frequently but not frenetically. Call it
a “link log”, or “linkblog”, or just “a good way to dick around on the
Internet for a few minutes a day”.