Android Hardware-Buttons Are (Conceptually) Broken ★
Christoffer Du Rietz, on the Android “back” and “menu” buttons:
The sad thing is about all this is that having made the decision
to use these buttons from the start, Google has locked itself in
a mess of a UI-model. All Android apps would have to be
redesigned should they want to change it around and fix this. In
short, they’re stuck with a UI that sucks and they can’t fix
it because they didn’t think it through thoroughly before the
Looks like they’re trying to fix this starting with the Galaxy Nexus by eliminating the hardware buttons but drawing them on-screen in the OS. Presumably, a future API revision could allow for apps that don’t need these buttons. Anyway, agree with his criticism of these two buttons completely. The Back button taking me somewhere unexpected was perhaps my single-biggest complaint both times I tested an Android phone.
The other lesson: the importance of getting things right, from the outset. If you’re designing just an app, you can fix many design errors later; if you’re designing an app platform, though, it’s hard to fix system-wide design errors without breaking existing apps.
AppleInsider: ‘Apple Reportedly Questioning Future of Mac Pro’ ★
Although the Mac maker has reportedly developed a revision to the
existing Mac Pro that may or may not see the light of day, people
familiar with the matter said management as far back as May of
2011 were in limbo over whether to pour any additional resources
into the product line.
You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
New iPhone 4S Commercials ★
These are some of the best ads I’ve ever seen. I love how in the Siri spots, the only faces entirely in the frame are the kids. Note too, that the narrator never says “Apple”.
Apple Spending Big Next Year on Retail and Cloud ★
Apple is doubling down on its retail and cloud operations. The
company says it will spend about $8 billion in capital
expenditures in 2012, which is almost twice as much as the $3.4
billion it spent during fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept.
30. Apple doesn’t willingly telegraph its plans, but thanks
to its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, we get a peek into where the company plans to invest
its money next year.
That’s a big jump, and that’s interesting. But, if you really want your mind blown, read Horace Dediu’s take on these expenditures, and how they correlate strongly to iOS unit sales. Apple is implicitly forecasting another year of 100 percent iOS unit sales growth in 2012.
Josh Clark on ‘Edge Gestures’ ★
Josh Clark on the new four-finger switching gestures on the iPad in iOS 5:
I’m a huge fan of the spirit of these gestures, but I’m not crazy
about the execution. I wish Apple had followed the interaction
already adopted by other platforms, including BlackBerry Playbook,
Nokia N9, and the next version of Microsoft Windows. All of these
platforms use edge gestures, a technique that is at once more
internally consistent and more deferential to individual apps.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Streaming Live TV ★
From what I can gather, Gruber opposes the idea of “live
streaming TV.” By that he means the cable TV we’re all used to — programs air at certain times, and that’s when we can either
watch or record them for later viewing.
That’s not quite my stance. I’m not opposed to live traditional TV in any sense. What I’m thinking though, is that live streaming TV is the old way. It’s the established paradigm for how a TV works, what it does. You turn it on, pick a channel, and you see whatever is “live” on that channel right now.
Apple is only going to get serious about TV if they find a way to get past that paradigm. The old way of making cell phones, for example, was to make a device that was primarily designed for voice calls, with dedicated green/red hardware buttons for starting/terminating calls. Apple’s phone design still supported voice calls, of course, but relegated the entire phone experience to just another app. So maybe “live TV” would be just another app on an iTV. The base level of the experience, conceptually, would be a home screen full of apps, and old-school live streaming TV — if you have cable or satellite or whatever — would be one of those apps.
I’m just tossing ideas out here. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple never gets more serious about TV than it already is with Apple TV — a $100 box you attach to whatever TV set you want. But what I’m sure about is that if Apple does start selling its own TV sets, they’re not going to have much in common with TV sets as we know them. Apple undertakes major new initiatives only after figuring out a new way that shows that everyone already in the market is doing it wrong.
iOS 5 Bugs: Disappearing Wi-Fi Personal Hotspot ★
I ran into this bug after restoring my new 4S from a backup of my iPhone 4. Resetting the network settings did the trick.
DollarApp: Big Words ★
Those of you who follow the DF RSS feed know how the weekly sponsorship works. There’s one sponsor per week, and two posts: on Monday, an entry that appears only in the RSS feed, written by the sponsor; then on Friday, a thank-you post that appears on both the DF website and in the RSS feed, written by me. (You’re reading one of the latter now.) The rule for the sponsor-written Monday entries is that they’re limited to 100 words. Some sponsors try to use every word they can, and that’s fine. But some of my favorite sponsorship posts are the shortest ones. This week’s was the shortest ever, and is my new all-time favorite DF sponsorship post. I’ll repeat it here, in its entirety:
Tired of Twitter? Message in real life using Big Words.
That’s the entire text of the ad. I don’t know about you, but me, if I read that, my curiosity would be piqued. I would have to click. So: my thanks to DollarApp and Dom Sagolla both for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed, and for writing my all-time favorite sponsorship ad. Check out the app — Big Words does one simple thing, really well. Do me a favor and cough up a buck — one buck! — if only to reward him for a great ad.
The Siri Dictation Key Doubles as a Space Bar When Tapped Quickly ★
Nice find by Gary Ng. Details, details, details.
The Subtle Changes in iOS 5 ★
Never stop sweating the pixels.
Jim Dalrymple Calls Bullshit on Today’s Samsung Smartphone Numbers ★
Remember back in July, when Samsung announced it would no longer reveal phone and tablet sales data? They’re still not revealing them, but that hasn’t stopped Strategy Analytics from declaring them the unit sales leader in smartphones. (And it’s another case of shipments-vs.-sales-to-customers.)
I’m not doubting, by the way, that Samsung sold more “smartphones” than Apple for the quarter. They’ve always sold more phones, period, and the industry is rapidly transitioning to one where nearly all new phones are going to be “smartphones”. The point is that an analyst’s estimate for Samsung’s sales numbers should not be reported as fact, nor should shipments be conflated with actual sales.
ARM Welcomes Windows With 64-Bit Chips for Desktops and Servers ★
I’ll bet Apple has both an ARM-based version of Mac OS X and an Intel-based version of iOS up and running in the labs. Apple loves having options.
Apple Lossless Audio Codec Now Open Source ★
The Apple Lossless Audio Codec project contains the sources for
the ALAC encoder and decoder. Also included is an example command
line utility, called alacconvert, to read and write audio data
to/from Core Audio Format (CAF) and WAVE files. A description of a
‘magic cookie’ for use with files based on the ISO base media file
format (e.g. MP4 and M4A) is included as well.
Sprint CEO Says iPhone Will Help Them Keep Unlimited Data Plans ★
Elizabeth Woyke, interviewing Sprint CEO Dan Hesse for Forbes:
Industry observers often speculate when Sprint will have to adopt
tiered pricing like AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Sprint is still not
saying when it may make that switch, but credits the iPhone for
helping it push the date out further. “One of the beauties of
carrying the iPhone is it extends the period of time and increases
the likelihood of us maintaining unlimited data longer because it
uses our network so efficiently,” said Hesse. […]
The iPhone’s other strength stems from Apple’s tight control
over iPhone applications. Since Apple makes iPhone apps meet
network efficiency thresholds, iPhone apps tend to “ping”
networks less often than other mobile operating systems do.
Cutting down on app “noise” lets carriers operate their
networks in a more productive and ultimately more profitable
manner. “It’s almost like a Prius,” said Hesse, comparing
the iPhone to Toyota’s fuel-efficient car.
Interesting. Most speculation I’ve seen is that the iPhone would hurry Sprint’s switch to tiered pricing, not delay it. Reading between the lines, he’s saying Android phones use a lot of data for apps running in the background.
Jack Donaghy Demos the Siri-Based Apple TV ★
“Crap.” (Via Joey Tyson.)
Forrester Urges IT to Support the Mac ★
As Philip Elmer-DeWitt quips, this really is a “hell has frozen over” moment.
Dan Frommer: ‘Here’s Why Apple’s TV Needs to Be an Actual Television, and Not Just a Cheap Add-on Box’ ★
Right now, the Apple TV box is aiming for “input 2” on your TV — most people still reserve “input 1” for their cable or
satellite box. (Believe it or not, the average American still
watches more than 5 hours of TV per day.) If you have a game
console, maybe Apple TV is even input 3 or 4 — if your TV even
has that many hi-def inputs. This was smart on Apple’s part,
because for most TV watchers, today’s Apple TV box is still only
a part-time solution.
But long-term, Apple probably wants its TV platform to be “input
To play devil’s advocate, what about all the people who’ve bought a nice new TV in the past, say, four years? Would Apple be willing to simply write all those people off? Maybe, insofar as they’d be getting into the TV set business for the long haul — willing to wait for whenever you are in the market for a new set. Tricky marketing problem, really.
Nick Bilton on an Apple Television Set: ‘It’s Not a Matter of if, It’s a Matter of When.’ ★
And he says the interface will be Siri:
Alternative remote ideas floated by Apple included a wireless
keyboard and mouse, or using an iPod, iPhone or iPad as a remote.
None of these concepts worked. But there was one “I finally
cracked it” moment, when Apple realized you could just talk to
It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and
rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you
simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play
the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music
videos.” Siri does the rest.
How would you tell Siri-on-TV to listen to your command, though, without an at least single-button remote? Without a prompt, how does Siri know when you’re talking to it?
Getting Siri to Pour a Beer ★
Not exactly efficient in any sense of the word, but great choice of beer. (Via Dave Shea.)
They Had to Burn the Sheets ★
Fresh off the presses, this week’s episode of the world’s most popular podcast devoted to the Free Software Foundation. Topics this week include the future of Apple TV, cable companies, iCloud, and Dropbox.
Brought to you by Squarespace and TinyLetter.
Motorola Mobility Third Quarter Results ★
Another quarter, another financial loss for Motorola Mobility. Android is winning!
Porsche Design P9981 BlackBerry to Sell for $2000 ★
Easily the best-designed new phone of 2005.
HP to Keep PC Division ★
You know what HP should do? They should acquire Netflix. Then a week later back away and say “Never mind.” Then a month later go ahead and buy Netflix. Those two are made for each other.
The Stallman Dialogues ★
Conversations with Richard Stallman.
Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision ★
This video encapsulates everything wrong with Microsoft. Their coolest products are imaginary futuristic bullshit. Guess what, we’ve all seen Minority Report already. Imagine if they instead spent the effort that went into this movie on making something, you know, real, that you could actually go out and buy and use today.
Pixelmator 2.0 ★
Major update to a great indie rival to Photoshop. $30 introductory price in the App Store — $60 (and a bargain at that) eventually.
Richard Kerris Moves From HP to Nokia ★
He left HP’s WebOS division earlier this week, and was just announced as Nokia’s “global head of developer relations”. What’s interesting is that it’s a job with Nokia, not Microsoft. What does it mean to be a “Nokia developer” when all Nokia phones are running Windows Phone 7? We’ll find out.
Visualizing Android Fragmentation ★
I went back and found every Android phone shipped in the United
States up through the middle of last year. I then tracked down
every update that was released for each device - be it a major OS
upgrade or a minor support patch — as well as prices and release
and discontinuation dates. I compared these dates and versions to
the currently shipping version of Android at the time. The
resulting picture isn’t pretty — well, not for Android users.
This took a lot of effort, and his resulting infographic is striking. Many Android phones ship on day one with an old version of the OS and never catch up at any point. Fantastic work. Pretty good analysis too:
In other words, Apple’s way of getting you to buy a new phone is
to make you really happy with your current one, whereas apparently
Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by
making you really unhappy with your current one. Then again, all
of this may be ascribing motives and intent where none exist — it’s entirely possible that the root cause of the problem is
just flat-out bad management (and/or the aforementioned
Bloomberg TV+ for iPad ★
This is the future of TV. The full Bloomberg news channel, free of charge, on your iPad. Apps are the new channels.
Condé Nast Subscriptions Up 268 Percent Since Newsstand Launch ★
Darrell Etherington, GigaOm:
The publisher, which puts out many top-tier magazines including
Wired, GQ and The New Yorker, has seen digital subscriptions rise
268 percent since Newsstand arrived with the iOS 5 update almost
two weeks ago.
Not only did subscriptions increase, but single issue sales also
skyrocketed with a 142 percent increase when compared with the
eight weeks prior to Newsstand’s launch. Both represent
increases as measured across all nine of Condé Nast’s digital
titles available on the iOS platform.
Location, location, location.
Richard Stallman’s Hypocritical Stance on Cell Phones ★
- I refuse to have a cell phone because they are tracking and
surveillance devices. They all enable the phone system to record
where the user goes, and many (perhaps all) can be remotely
converted into listening devices.
- In addition, most of them are computers with nonfree software
installed. Even if they don’t allow the user to replace the
software, someone else can replace it remotely. Since the
software can be changed, we cannot regard it as equivalent to a
circuit. A machine that allows installation of software is a
computer, and computers should run free software.
- When I need to call someone, I ask someone nearby to let me make
“Hey that thing is terrible. The government is using it to track and spy on you, and the software is evil. Can I borrow it for a second to make a call?”
Program games for the iPad — on your iPad.
‘Needs More Texture’ ★
Some time later, I worked on a twitter client with my pal Buzz. A
friend of his who worked at Apple told us this little story. One
day while riding the elevator at Infinite Loop, he found himself
in the freakiest scenario any Apple employee can imagine: alone,
with the elevator door opening to let Steve in. Being a
well-adjusted individual, Buzz’s friend promptly disappeared
into the tap-world of his iPhone, lest he say or do something
wrong in Steve’s presence. It was still the early days of iPhone
apps, and Steve did something that had apparently become a habit
with him. He reached for the iPhone and asked,
“What app is that?”
“Birdfeed”, came the reply.
Steve tapped here and there, flicked the scrollview a bit, then
handed the phone back. “The background needs more texture,”
I’ve heard similar stories regarding other apps, particularly within Apple. This is why Aqua debuted with those horizontal stripes. This is why Brushed Metal became a rock star. This is why iOS’s default UI theme features those vertical background stripes. This explains the proliferation of dark linen. And I’m definitely not saying it was Steve Jobs alone who held this opinion.
I’m just saying there’s a very strong line of thought within Apple, which came (and I’ll bet still comes) from the top, that distinctive in-app textures are important.
‘Don’t Buy a Parrot Figuring That It Will Be a Fun Surprise for Me.’ ★
From Richard Stallman’s 9000-ish-word rider for speaking engagements:
I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about
what I will do breakfast. Please just do not bring it up.
It’s a lot to read, but worth it. If you have to skim, don’t miss the sections on hospitality and music. (Via Jacqui Cheng.)
On Apple’s Skeuomorphic UI Textures ★
James Higgs, on the stark contrast between Apple’s minimalist hardware and often exuberantly-decorative software:
It should probably be obvious that my own preference is for design
without ornamentation, certainly without a hint of sentimentality,
and that I detest these new apps. Why?
Simply put: it’s because they are lies. They attempt to comfort us
(to patronise us) by trying to show how they relate to physical
objects in the real world when there is no need. How are we helped
to understand what Find My Friends does by the addition of
“leather” trim? And how difficult can it be for someone, even a
relative digital newcomer, to understand a list of books?
Difficult enough that the only possible way they could understand
it is to present them in a “wooden” bookshelf format?
My record as a critic of Apple’s use of over-the-top UI textures speaks for itself. And I’ve long noted something that Higgs emphasizes: that the use of these software skins today —rich Corinthian leather, dark linen, etc. — seems in contrast with the minimalism and truth of Apple’s hardware. The iPhone 4 and iPad are made of glass and aluminum, and they look like glass and aluminum. That’s truth. A decade ago, Apple’s exuberant software skins — candy-colored Aqua and brushed metal — always struck me as being designed as natural counterparts to Apple’s hardware of the day. Aqua was like the candy-colored iMacs, brushed metal the PowerBooks and Mac Pros.
I think Higgs is overthinking this, though. These themes aren’t lies. They’re not designed to help users understand how these apps work. They’re just decoration. They’re per-app branding. Apple no longer endorses system-wide visual uniformity. Special apps are supposed to look special. Why is Find My Friends wrapped in rich Corinthian leather? Because someone at Apple likes (and, sadly, if my guess is right, better said liked, past tense) how it looks.
And as for the dichotomy between Apple’s hardware and software designs: I think Apple sees the hardware as the universal frame, the software as dozens of diverse pictures.
Sprint Talks iPhone ★
Sinead Carew and Yinka Adegoke, reporting for Reuters:
Sprint, which started taking iPhone orders on October 7, said it
would pay Apple a subsidy that is 40 percent higher, or $200 more
per device, than what it pays for other phones.
Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse told analysts on a conference
call that the iPhone would be worth the extra cost as it has
already lured record numbers of new customers to Sprint.
I’ll bet that’s true for all iPhone carriers, not just Sprint. This is how Apple soaks up a majority share of the industry’s profits while only selling 3 percent or so of the total handsets.
21-Month-Old Nexus One ‘Too Old’ for Android 4.0 Upgrade ★
The Nexus One was released in the U.S. in January 2010, and in Europe in May 2010. (The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009, and just got an upgrade to iOS 5.)
Nokia’s First Windows Phones: Lumia 710 and 800 ★
The Lumia 800 looks like the Windows Phone Mango device to get.
The Apple-Fication of Everything ★
Go to the “thermostats” page on the Home Depot website —
I’ve sorted the results to put the most expensive ones at the
top of the page — and see a bunch of white plastic boxes with
black-and-green LCD displays. And now you see why the Nest
thermostat is exciting people today.
More than anything, this reminds me of the slide of 2006-era
smartphones — Motorola Q, BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Treo, Nokia
E-something-something — that Steve Jobs displayed before he
introduced the iPhone for the first time. Night and day.
Apple’s priorities — simplicity, beauty, excellence — are becoming the industry’s priorities. You don’t have to be a former Apple employee to get on board this train, though.
Two-Thirds of Google’s Mobile Search Traffic Comes From iOS Devices ★
Seth Weintraub, last month:
But as part of the testimony, Creighton said briefly (before she
was cut off) that 2/3rds of mobile search comes from Apple iOS
devices. That’s pretty interesting considering the share of
Android devices in the market.
Keep this in mind, both regarding Siri as a threat to Google, and with the whole “Android is winning because there are more Android handsets than iPhones” thing.
I’ve speculated for years that by making Apple into an enemy, Google could wind up losing money with Android, long-term, compared to a hypothetical world where they’d kept Android as a BlackBerry-ish OS rather than an iPhone-ish one. iPhone users are the cream of the crop, demographically.
The Limits of Human Rationality ★
Jonah Lehrer, writing for The New Yorker on Daniel Kahneman’s new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow:
It’s impossible to overstate the influence of Kahneman and
Tversky. Like Darwin, they helped to dismantle a longstanding myth
of human exceptionalism. Although we’d always seen ourselves as
rational creatures — this was our Promethean gift — it turns out
that human reason is rather feeble, easily overwhelmed by ancient
instincts and lazy biases. The mind is a deeply flawed machine.
Depressing, in a way, but it explains so much of our collective behavior. (Via Kontra.)
How Siri Disrupts Search ★
Rich Mogull, at TidBITS:
Siri doesn’t replace search, but in many cases it circumvents it
by directing users straight to integrated partner services. When
you ask for the nearest Indian restaurant there’s still a search
taking place, but it’s through Yelp, not a generic search engine
that would include Yelp plus various other results.
By skipping the search engine and going straight to a designated
source there is no place to insert advertising.
‘That Is All’ ★
Fabulous book trailer for John Hodgman’s That Is All, the finale in his trilogy of complete world knowledge.
Lex Friedman Reviews Eight iPhone 4 Battery Cases ★
On any typical day, my iPhone battery lasts all day, easily. And my new 4S seems to get about the same battery life as my old 4 did. But when I’m traveling and depending on my iPhone for my net access all day long, I need more power. Previously I had one of those external battery dinguses, but last year I bought a Mophie Juice Pack Air, and I’ve found I greatly prefer a battery case over the external battery packs. It’s like having a much thicker iPhone with somewhere around 1.6 times the battery life.
But it seems to me like my Juice Pack doesn’t hold as much juice as it did when new, and, I figure, if I’m going to buy another battery case that fits the 4/4S form factor, now is the time to do it, when I’ll maximize the time I’ll be carrying a phone that fits it. I like my Mophie, but I’d rather have something slimmer than either of the Mophie models, even if it packed a bit less capacity. Put a Juice Pack-encased iPhone in your jeans pocket and it feels like you have a Samsung Galaxy Battleship in there.
The two most tempting ones, judging by Lex Friedman’s survey of the field: the Incipio OffGrid (.5 inches thick, vs. .7 inches thick for the Juice Pack Air) and the Third Rail Slim Case. I’ll probably just stick with my Juice Pack Air, though.
Robot Barf ★
When your kids ask you “Where do QR codes come from?”, send them here.
Someone’s Starting to Get a Clue ★
From Anand Lal Shimpi’s review of the Asus Zenbook laptop:
In our earlier coverage I pointed out that ASUS had moved
Microsoft’s required Certificate of Authenticity to the power
brick, something that’s usually located on the system itself.
Microsoft mandates the sticker’s placement on the system, however
there is a clean PC program an OEM can apply for in order to
somewhat skirt the requirement. ASUS did apply for and was
approved, allowing it the luxury of moving that CoA sticker to
the power adapter. While it does improve the beauty of the
machine, it also means that if you lose your power adapter you do
lose your CoA.
Microsoft and Intel were also petitioned to allow greyscale
versions of their respective product logos. ASUS’ request was also
approved, which is why you see less obnoxious Intel inside and
Windows 7 stickers on the Zenbook.
Fewer stickers on the laptop itself, and the grayscale ones are more tasteful. But you know what’s cool? Not slapping stickers on laptops in the first place.
Stephen Fry on Steve Jobs ★
I missed this when Stephen Fry wrote it a few weeks ago, just after Jobs’s death. Brilliant:
As always there are those who reveal their asininity (as they did
throughout his career) with ascriptions like “salesman”,
“showman” or the giveaway blunder “triumph of style over
substance”. The use of that last phrase, “style over
substance” has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a
marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive
a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read
or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination
or connective intelligence. It may have been Leclerc Buffon who
first said “le style c’est l’homme — the style is the
man” but it is an observation that anyone with sense had
understood centuries before. Only dullards crippled into cretinism
by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to
believe that there is a distinction between design and use,
between form and function, between style and substance.
The whole piece is great, and so much great stuff has been written about Jobs and Apple in the last month, but the above paragraph is just perfect.
Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma ★
They can do it because Apple hasn’t optimized its organization to
maximize profit. Instead, it has made the creation of value for
customers its priority. When you do this, the fear of
cannibalization or disruption of one’s self just melts away. In
fact, when your mission is based around creating customer value,
around creating great products, cannibalization and disruption
aren’t “bad things” to be avoided. They’re things you actually
strive for — because they let you improve the outcome for your
Is Mobile Safari Faster on iOS 5? ★
From a Slate story by Seth Stevenson, on Rolex signing Tiger Woods to an endorsement contract:
Privately held since its formation in 1905, Rolex is a notoriously
tight-lipped company. It doesn’t release revenue figures, or
explain leadership transitions. (It had a total of three CEOs from
1905 until 2008, when then-CEO Patrick Heiniger resigned under
mysterious circumstances.) Even the corporate structure is a
bit murky. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf died childless in 1960,
leaving control of his company to a charitable foundation he’d
established. The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation runs Rolex to this day.
When I emailed a polite-but-elliptical media-relations woman to
ask whether Rolex is essentially a nonprofit, and who the
foundation’s major beneficiaries are, she responded with this
sentence: “The principal focus of the foundation is to support a
variety of philanthropic endeavors.”
I did not know that.
The Ubuntu Font Family ★
I don’t particularly care for it, and don’t think it’s going to age well, but it sure strikes me as better than Roboto. Update: The monospace variants of the Ubuntu font are really nice.
AirPlay TV ★
Joe Hewitt speculates on AirPlay’s potential regarding these “new TV by Apple” rumors. In short: latency, latency, latency.
Bloomberg: Jeff Robbin Working on Next-Gen TV Project at Apple ★
Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. is turning to the software engineer who built iTunes
to help lead its development of a television set, according to
three people with knowledge of the project. Jeff Robbin, who
helped create the iPod in addition to the iTunes media store, is
now guiding Apple’s internal development of the new TV effort,
said the people, who declined to be identified because his role
If it’s true, and if it ships, put my money down on “iTV” as the name. (I know, that was the code-name of the Apple TV during development, and Apple apparently changed it because of the ITV network in the U.K. But the “iPhone” trademark was held by Cisco, too.)
Steven Levy Profiles Nest Labs ★
The problem was that the thermostat would draw power only from the
tiny trickle of electricity from its wires. “We spent
cumulatively more than 10 man-years working on the technology to
enable remote control over the Internet while the device is on the
wall, asleep, without using external power,” says Matt Rogers.
“It basically took all our years at Apple to do that. What makes
an iPod play music for 24 hours is what enabled us to do this for
A big part of my talk last week at the Çingleton Symposium was about how dominance leads to influence, and how because Apple now dominates the tech world, its influence is beginning to spread. We’re going to see more products and companies that adhere to Apple-like ideals and priorities.
Google Reader and Mac/iOS RSS Readers That Sync ★
Brent Simmons on the recent changes to Google Reader:
I’m not an RSS reader developer any more. But if I were, I’d
start looking for an alternative syncing system right now.
Troubleshooting a Battery-Sucking iPhone 4S ★
This is one of the nerdiest sentences I’ve written in months, but here goes: I loved this iPhone 4S battery-life troubleshooting story by Chris Breen.
Fraser Speirs’s Week With iOS 5 ★
Fraser Speirs spent a week on vacation with only his iPhone and iPad:
Put it this way: I’m home now and there’s not one task that
cropped up during the week that I had to say “I’ll have to wait
until I get back to my Mac to finish this”. That, to me, is the
Entrepreneurs Who Go It Alone ★
Speaking of Marco Arment, here’s a Time magazine piece on the rise of one-man-show businesses, using Instapaper and Maciej Ceglowski’s Pinboard as examples.
Official Marco.org In-Depth Review of the iPhone 4S ★
From Marco Arment’s copiously-detailed iPhone 4S review:
I don’t notice the speed increase.
It’s easier to notice by going back to the no-S iPhone 4 for a few hours.
Labeling the Back Button ★
Good rule of thumb: label the button with where you’re going back to.
Being able to label the back button is a big reason why the iPhone’s on-screen buttons are better than Android’s hardware Back button. A dedicated hardware Back button can never answer the question “Where?”
Nest — New ‘Learning Thermostat’ ★
Looks gorgeous and clever. Reminds me of HAL. Here’s CEO Tony Fadell — that Tony Fadell — introducing the company in a blog post:
“So what are you working on lately?” a friend asks over lunch.
“I started a new company. We make thermostats.”
They chuckle, take a bite of their salad, “No, seriously. What
are you doing?”
“I’m serious. Thermostats.”
Comparing the iPhone 4S Camera Against Others ★
A photo comparison from all iPhone version cameras (first
generation iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the new iPhone
4S), a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon S95 ($500), and a
professional dSLR, the Canon 5DMKII ($4000+) in two situations: 1.
A macro setting to test detail and quality of the cameras; 2. A
backlit skyline shot.
Not bad for four years of progress.
Apple Tweaks Colors of iPad Smart Covers ★
They dropped orange (my wife’s favorite) and “tweaked” my favorite, the leather navy one, to be “more navy”. Best news is that they’ve added a nice dark gray polyurethane one — I thought it was somewhat crummy how in the original lineup, the only dark ones were the more expensive leather ones.
Updated MacBook Pros ★
Faster CPUs and bigger hard drives.
‘I Finally Cracked It’ ★
Marco Arment on the passage in Isaacson’s biography where Jobs tells him he’s “cracked” the problem of creating an Apple-quality TV.
The way to revolutionize the TV market is to cut out all of the
legacy. No cable companies. No broadcast tuners. No channels. No
DVRs. All internet delivery. All on-demand. No commercials.
But that’s an incredibly tall order. Apple can do a lot, but
I’m not sure that they can do that, given how much of it is
out of their control.
It’s all about content. I don’t even think it’s that hard to imagine a truly game-changing TV from Apple — but such a thing would require massive participation from content providers. I’m not going to hold my breath.
The other thing that’s always struck me is that even if Apple could get a ton of content providers on board with the idea, they’d still have to worry about cable providers because so many of us get our Internet service from a cable company. What’s to stop Comcast from throttling your bandwidth after you drop TV service and pay them for nothing other than Internet service? Ideally the feds would prevent that, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that either.
Good Point on Amazon’s New KF8 E-Book Format ★
Guido Henkel on KF8:
The big problem with the introduction of the KF8 format is that
Amazon is doing a pretty hack job with this, I am very sorry to
say, because, according to Amazon’s announcement and FAQ, none
of the older Kindles will be able to support this format.
Why is this a problem? Well, as a professional eBook formatter,
the question for me is, how am I supposed to deal with this?
Instead of creating the foundation for one rock solid Kindle
platform that has powerful capabilities, Amazon is now going down
the road of platform fragmentation.
Amazon promises that their tools will convert KF8 files to alternate formats compatible with older Kindles, but as Henkel notes:
Just because KindleGen 2 promises to convert your books, doesn’t
mean you should, because the output quality will be dubious at
best. Of course, if you are part of the
I-don’t-care-just-make-it-easy, Smashwords-adoring crowd, yes,
that might work for you, but if you take pride in your ebook’s
layout and formatting, this is not going to fly.
Market Share Claim Chowder ★
From a December 2002 CNet piece by Joe Wilcox:
“Certainly by… 2005, possibly by the end of 2003, Linux will
pass Mac OS as the No. 2 operating environment,” said IDC analyst
Reads better if you pronounce certainly like Curly from The Three Stooges.
(Thanks to DF reader Steven Klein.)
Dick Cavett on Steve Jobs ★
“How does it feel to be Dick Cavett?”
That’s what he said.
What a dumb question, I thought. This guy can’t be very bright.
The “guy” was named Steve Jobs. Turned out he was
Flash Player Access to Your Camera and Microphone Is Controlled By Adobe ★
Yet another reason to keep Flash uninstalled in your primary web browser.
Siri and the Phonetic Name Fields ★
Simon Evans on the phonetic name fields in Address Book/Contacts:
What they didn’t mention is that adding information to these
fields will almost certainly mess up the sorting of your
To understand why, you need to understand their intended function.
They are there to aid with the sorting of Japanese and Chinese
names. That’s why they don’t show up by default when using
English as the system language. (Oddly, they can’t even be added
if you’re using British English.)
Yeah, seems like a nice idea to use these fields to aid Siri, but it’s not what they’re there for.
VueScan Mobile ★
My thanks to Hamrick Software for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote VueScan Mobile. VueScan Mobile is a powerful, easy-to-use app that lets you use your Wi-Fi printer/scanners from HP, Epson, and Canon on your iOS device.
VueScan Mobile works with a long list of popular Wi-Fi-enabled scanners, saves scanned images to your photo library, and can send images to any other app that reads PDFs or JPEGs, including iBooks, Dropbox, and GoodReader.
VueScan Mobile’s big sibling VueScan is great desktop scanning software for the Mac, Windows, and even Linux. Hamrick does one thing and they do it incredibly well: they make great scanning software.
Jon Stokes on Next-Gen ARM CPUs, and Apple’s Switch to Intel ★
Years ago, I heard the back-story on Apple’s switch to Intel
first-hand from some folks on the IBM side of things, and what I
learned was that Steve Jobs agonized over this decision and waited
until the morning of the keynote before pulling the trigger on
this move. He actually went into that day with two keynote
presentations prepared: one for a PowerPC-based product line, and
one for The Switch. When he pulled out The Switch presentation,
the IBM team was absolutely as stunned as the rest of the world,
as was the P.A. Semi team who had been separately assured by Jobs
that their dual-core PowerPC part would find its way into Apple
I believe it, but this sort of conflicts with reporting by CNet and The Wall Street Journal — both of which reported Apple’s surprise switch to Intel for the Mac a few days before the WWDC keynote. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Apple “decided” to switch to Intel a few days before WWDC, but that nothing had been signed in ink until the morning of the keynote.
Anyway, good stuff on next-gen ARM technology, as usual from Stokes.
Maybe Microsoft Should Get Into the Concert Ticket Business? ★
Some camp-out-all-night-outside-the-store lines are not alike.
This Is Not a Cheesesteak ★
Splendid new blog documenting sandwich atrocities.
Newsstand Is Driving a Surge in Magazine, Newspaper iPad App Subscriptions ★
Jeff Sonderman, Poynter:
A couple weeks ago I predicted that Apple’s virtual Newsstand
for iPads and iPhones would provide “a little more convenience
for the user, and a little more discoverability for the publisher — but nothing here is a game-changer.”
I stand by the first part of that diagnosis, but it’s now clear
there is something game-changing about Newsstand. Since Apple
launched it last week in the latest version of its iOS operating
system, its impact has been immediate and significant. Many
Newsstand apps now rank among the top free apps overall, and
magazine and newspaper apps are benefiting from a surge of
downloads and subscribers.
I think it’s all about prominence and visibility. The iOS home screen is prime real estate. It’s up there with the Google home page. There is no clutter, and Apple is judicious when adding new items. People notice Newsstand. It was the first thing my mom asked me about after she upgraded her iPad to iOS 5.
Ben Brooks said it well:
For power users the Newsstand seems stupid and annoying, I suspect
though that for many non-power users it is more of a “finally”
type system. It makes searching for, downloading, paying for
periodicals very easy.
Undocumented APIs and Android ★
Tim Bray on the Android Developers Blog, in a post euphemistically titled “New Public APIs in ICS”, which is really about widely-used undocumented APIs (a.k.a. private APIs, in Apple parlance) that have changed in Android 4.0:
And we also think that most developers know that when they use
undocumented APIs, they’re making a commitment to doing the
right thing when those APIs change.
Interested to see how this goes.
AT&T Seeing ‘Tremendous, Tremendous Demand’ for iPhone 3GS ★
Peter Cohen, quoting AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega:
I also mentioned in my notes that we have another device that I
think is going to dramatically change those people that are on
smartphones and quick messaging devices, the 3GS, which is free
with a 2-year contract. We’ve seen a tremendous, tremendous
demand for that device even though it’s a generation old. And
actually, we’re getting more new subscribers coming on the 3GS
on the average than other devices.
That’s the power of “free*”, even when the asterisk is a requirement that you sign a two-year contract that costs like $1,500, minimum. Also, worth keeping in mind: the 3GS is an advantage AT&T still has over Verizon and Sprint — there is no CDMA iPhone 3GS.
Update: Interesting point from a DF reader on Twitter:
Wondering how many of those free 3GS’s are the third (teenager!)
phone on a family plan. That can be as low as $25/mo.
I hadn’t really thought about family plans, but that makes sense — “free*” is a lot closer to no-asterisk-just-plain-free in that case.
AnandTech on Mobile Display Pixel Density ★
Brian Klug and Jason Inofuentes compare the pixel density of the Galaxy Nexus with other leading Android handsets and the iPhone 4(S).
Why the QR Code Is Failing ★
People will not adopt a technical solution that serves to
replace a manual task, if that solution is less efficient than
the manual task it replaces. How could we think that QR codes
for marketing would work any better than CueCat? Did we not learn
the first time?
QR codes are built for machines, not humans. And they’re ugly.
Update: Mikey-san nails it:
Robot barf looks like QR codes.
Kindle Format 8 ★
At a glance, this seems like a richer format — giving more control to designers — than ePub.
‘What the Fuck Is Wrong With You People?’ ★
Jon Stewart on Republicans’ “thank America last” stance regarding the Obama administration’s success in Libya.
This Is How Science Works ★
Physicists are notorious for believing that other scientists are
mathematically incompetent. And University of California-Berkeley
physicist Richard Muller is notorious for believing that
conventional wisdom is often wrong. For example, the conventional
wisdom about climate change. Muller has criticized Al Gore in the
past as an “exaggerator,” has spoken warmly of climate skeptic
Anthony Watts, and has said that Steve McIntyre’s famous takedown
of the “hockey stick” climate graph made him “uncomfortable” with
the paper the hockey stick was originally based on.
So in 2010 he started up the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature
project (BEST) to show the world how to do climate analysis right.
Who better, after all?
I’d Vote for Them ★
Anyway, speaking of podcasts, great episode of Back to Work this week, talking about iCloud.
Skyping a Deuce ★
This week’s episode of America’s favorite game show, The Talk Show. Topics include: Siri, Apple’s earnings announcement, Roboto, Dropbox, iOS Twitter integration, the Çingleton Symposium, Badger Face, the Galaxy Nexus, iPhone cases, and a bunch of other nonsense. Brought to you by some of the finest sponsors in the world: Sourcebits, RE:minder, and Shopify.
Great Artists Steal the Future ★
The T.S. Eliot quote at the end really nails it.
James Kendrick: ‘After the iPhone 4S, Android Just Feels Wrong’ ★
Long-time Android user James Kendrick:
This realization hit me hard, as I found that as I used the Nexus,
a phone I absolutely love, the user experience was jangling my
nerves. The inconsistencies in the interface between apps and the
occasional lag doing simple things like scrolling in windows just
screamed at me. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but after
using the iPhone these things jump out at me. […]
The biggest area of discontent is in web browsing, one of the
primary things I do with a smartphone.
iPhone 4S Commercial ★
Great music, great pacing. Love the framing of the faces. Better than most movie trailers.
Pre-Order ‘Steve Jobs’ From Amazon ★
Call me old-fashioned, but a book like this, I get in hardcover.
Pre-order links for the new-fashioned: Kindle and iBooks.
‘I’m Going to Destroy Android, Because It’s a Stolen Product’ ★
The AP, quoting from an advance copy of Walter Isaacson’s imminent Jobs biography:
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend
every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this
wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a
stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Jobs used an expletive to describe Android and Google Docs,
Google’s Internet-based word processing program. In a subsequent
meeting with Schmidt at a Palo Alto, Calif., cafe, Jobs told
Schmidt that he wasn’t interested in settling the lawsuit, the
“I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want
it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas
in Android, that’s all I want.” The meeting, Isaacson wrote,
I’m pretty much in no-spoiler mode on this book, but I had to post this.
Siri Searches Bing and Yahoo, Too ★
Nice find by Greg Sterling.
iCloud Calendars Are Type-Specific ★
From BusyCal’s “Upgrading to iCloud” support page:
iCloud calendars are type-specific. Each iCloud calendar may
contain either Events or To Dos, but not both. When you move your
calendars to iCloud, each calendar will be split into two
calendars — one for Events and one for To Dos.
This was a source of confusion for me, because iCal doesn’t list reminder-only calendars as separate calendars, but BusyCal and certain other CalDAV clients do.
E.g., with MobileMe, I had one calendar named “John”. When I upgraded from MobileMe to iCloud, that calendar was split in two — one for events, one for reminders — but both were named “John”. BusyCal shows two calendars, but iCal still shows just one. The app that handles this best is — perhaps unsurprisingly — the web-based iCloud Calendar app. There, calendars and reminder lists are presented in the source list as discrete items.
Apple’s Relentless Push Forward ★
David Barnard, on Apple’s aggressive move forward to iOS 5:
At a time when most current Android devices — even the ones that
will be sold over the holiday shopping season — won’t ever have
the option to install Android 4.0, Apple is specifically pushing
the iOS install base forward. Apple wants all iOS users on iOS 5,
not just the ones who buy a brand new device.
How to Disable Internal MacBook Display When External Display Is Attached ★
Mac OS X Hints:
Before Lion it was possible to run an external display off a
laptop and have the internal display disabled, even if you opened
the lid. This can be useful for a myriad of reasons including
energy saving and better Wi-Fi reception. With Lion the internal
display will always turn on when the lid is opened, even if there
is already an external display connected.
I just ran into this after upgrading my main machine to Lion. A little
nvram command-line jiggery-pokery does the trick.
Decades-Old ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ Strip Succinctly Explains Occupy Wall Street Movement ★
Thirteen Observations Made by Lemony Snicket While Watching Occupy Wall Street From a Discreet Distance ★
Best thing I’ve read about Occupy Wall Street. Love this one:
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings
ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at
them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
(Via Aaron Swartz.)
How to Bring Good Design to a Platform ★
Stupid arrogant iOS and Mac developers. Think they know it all. Google will show them.
Let’s Take This One With a Grain of Salt ★
Ina Fried, covering some conference in Asia on some website:
Andy Rubin thinks there is a lot of potential for phones to be
more useful companions, but says he is not interested in turning
Android devices into personal assistants.
“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant,”
the Android chief said in an interview on Wednesday just after
appearing on stage at AsiaD. “Your phone is a tool for
communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone;
you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the
What do you expect him to say about Siri, though? “Well, Apple really pulled ahead of us there”? Not going to happen. The truth is, Google has been working on voice-driven stuff for mobile devices for years. The primary interface to their Google for iPhone app is voice. The ante has been raised, and the correct play is for Google to downplay Siri’s relevance until they feel they’re competitive. This is like Steve Jobs dismissing video-playing iPods, claiming that no one wants to watch movies or TV shows on a handheld display, one year before Apple shipped video-playing iPods.
FlatpanelsHD on the Galaxy Nexus 4.65-inch OLED Display ★
And if you calculate the real pixel density you will find that the
Galaxy Nexus is actually closer to a “real” ppi value of 200,
which is slightly lower than on the Galaxy S II (that uses a Super
AMOLED Plus with RGB pixel structure). Some claim that a PenTile
panel needs around 420 ppi to qualify as a Retina display and that
is probably also the reason why Retina is nowhere to be found on
the specs sheets of neither Galaxy Note nor Galaxy Nexus. If you
are keen on a Samsung smartphone you might even find that the
screen in the Galaxy S II is better. But the iPhone 4 and iPhone
4S still lead the pixel race. Some people say they never notice
the PenTile pixel structure but it is just like a stain on a
carpet; once you see it, it is hard to disregard.
My problem with OLED displays is color saturation. I have yet to see an OLED display where colors aren’t severely over-saturated. Blacks are blacker, yes, but colors are way off. This seems to be another area where iOS and Android devices are diverging.
Newest U.S. iPhone 4S Carrier: C Spire ★
C Spire, a wireless carrier you’ve probably never heard of,
announced Wednesday that it will become the fourth U.S. wireless
provider to sell the iPhone 4S.
The regional carrier formerly known as Cellular South serves just
under 900,000 customers, mostly in Mississippi. By contrast,
Sprint, previously the smallest carrier to sell the iPhone, serves
52 million customers.
Why a tiny regional like C Spire and yet still not T-Mobile? My guess is that it’s because T-Mobile uses a different band for 3G than AT&T (and most other GSM carriers around the globe). C Spire is a regular CDMA carrier, so the iPhone 4S just works. Getting 3G to work on T-Mobile would require different GSM antenna hardware, I think. (Via Joe Stump.)
Lies, Damned Lies, and App Store Statistics ★
Interesting analysis of iOS App Store popularity by category, by Casey Fleser. (Via Jamin Guy.)
What Is a Computer? ★
Sesame Street, 1984. These kids got it.
iPhone’s Phonetic Name Fields ★
Two little-known fields in iPhone contact cards are the Phonetic
First and Last Names. Fill them in to help Siri understand your
requests better and to keep Siri from mispronouncing the names of
your friends and family.
The fields aren’t new, but their usefulness for Siri is.
Remember the Milk, Now Integrated With Siri ★
Remember the Milk now works with Siri. How? They added CalDAV server support — add your Remember the Milk account as a CalDAV server on your iPhone, and set that account to be the default for reminders, and boom — new reminders created with Siri will go there. Clever.
China Is Now Apple’s Second-Most Important Market ★
Calling the progress in China “amazing,” Cook said that if you
count the greater China region as a whole (which includes Hong
Kong and Taiwan) it now accounts for 12 percent of Apple’s
full-year revenue for 2011. That’s up from just 2 percent in
fiscal year 2009, he said. That makes it Apple’s
“fastest-growing region by far.”
Wonder if there’s any room for growth in China.
Yonhap News: ‘Galaxy Nexus Designed to Bypass Apple Patents’ ★
Lee Youkyung, reporting for Yonhap News:
The Galaxy Nexus smartphone, the first handset built using a new
version of the Android system called “ice cream sandwich,” is
designed to bypass potential legal attacks from Apple Inc., the
mobile chief of Samsung Electronics Co. said.
“Now we will avoid everything we can and take patents very
seriously,” Shin told reporters Tuesday on the eve of the Galaxy
Nexus launch. His comments were embargoed until Wednesday.
As opposed to all their previous phones?
Lytro Camera ★
Speaking of fascinating new imaging technology, Lytro today started taking preorders for their new “light field technology” camera. The result allows you to “focus” the image after it was taken. Sounds amazing, and the examples look good. I’ll let others be the guinea pigs on this, but I’m tempted.
(In another sign of the changing times, their desktop editing software only supports one platform, and that’s the Mac, not Windows.)
Image Deblurring ★
Fascinating new research from Adobe. (Via Scott Beale.)
Buying Coffee and Creating Jobs ★
Joe Nocera on an interesting job creation plan from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:
Here’s the idea they came up with: Americans themselves would
start lending to small businesses, with Starbucks serving as the
middleman. Starbucks would find financial institutions willing to
loan to small businesses. Starbucks customers would be able to
donate money to the effort when they bought their coffee.
F-Secure: ‘Mac Trojan Disables XProtect Updates’ ★
Speaking of Mac malware:
Recent analysis has revealed to us that
Trojan-Downloader:OSX/Flashback.C disables the automatic updater
component of XProtect, Apple’s built-in OS X anti-malware
Might be worth keeping an eye on. Remember, though, it’s a Trojan — something you need to be tricked into installing manually, including typing your admin password.
The Sandbox Is Not Optional on iOS ★
From a post at ReadWriteWeb by Dan Rowinski on Lookout, a “security” app for the iPhone:
Lookout has created an app that is as simple as the iPhone. It is
lightweight, easy to use and works. In terms of malware, Lookout
can add its Android-style virus detector if iOS is ever drowned in
No, it can’t. App Store apps can only read and write to the file system within their own sandbox. They can’t examine other apps, nor the data of other apps. There will never be third-party antivirus software in the App Store so long as the sandboxing rules remain in place. And so long as the sandboxing rules remain in place, there shouldn’t need to be.
We can argue about whether you should run anti-malware software on your Mac. But it can’t even exist on non-jailbroken iOS devices.
Acclivity NYC ★
Acquirers of the other two Sofa apps, Checkout and Enstore. Long-time Mac users will recall Acclivity NYC’s parent company by its former name, MYOB. Should be a great home for these apps.
Taking a Call From the Chairman ★
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son:
I visited Apple for the announcement of the iPhone 4S [at Apple
headquarters in Cupertino, California]. When I was having a
meeting with Tim Cook, he said, ‘Oh Masa, sorry I have to quit our
meeting.’ I said, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘My boss is
calling me.’ That was the day of the announcement of the iPhone
4S. He said that Steve is calling me because he wants to talk
about their next product. And the next day, he died.
(Let’s not read much into the subject of the call, though.)
‘Way Down Inside’ ★
Michael Winslow gets the Led out.
My Favorite Pen: The Zebra Sarasa 0.4mm ★
Black ink, of course. Been using it for a few years now, nothing else comes close. (Well, the Uni-ball Signo RT 0.38mm comes close.) Anyway, if you’re not buying pens from JetPens, your pen probably sucks.
Andy Rubin: ‘I Don’t Think There Should Be Apps Specific to a Tablet’ ★
“I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet,”
[Rubin] said. He also added that “if someone makes an [Ice Cream
Sandwich] app it’s going to run on phones and it’s going to
run on tablets.” Now, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think
there shouldn’t be apps optimized for larger screens, it just
means that ICS will continue to work like Honeycomb, with a single
app scaling differently to different screen sizes. (He referenced
staying away from the Apple iPad / iPhone division in the App
Store.) That makes sense to us, but Rubin didn’t seem to be too
concerned with those large screened apps: “the Twitter phone app
works fine on a tablet.” Indeed it does, but the experience is
nowhere near as good as the one tweaked to take advantage of the
iPad’s larger screen.
In other words, Google’s grand-unification strategy for Android 4 is basically to treat tablets as big phones. Given how big Android phones are getting, maybe that’s the right strategy.
New Home for Versions and Kaleidoscope: Black Pixel ★
Black Pixel acquires the SVN client and file comparison app from Sofa, after Sofa’s talent acquisition by Facebook.
The Galaxy Nexus Is Big ★
At 4.65 inches diagonally, this isn’t just a little bigger than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display, it’s way bigger. Here’s a sketch I whipped up in a notebook. I like Kottke’s take:
Ben: That’s no moon. It’s a phone.
Han: It’s too big to be a phone.
Luke: I have a very bad feeling about this.
It’s always hard to judge color reproduction in a photo of a display, but, man, the colors look crazy over-saturated to my eyes. Check out the orange on the side-by-side renderings of This Is My Next’s home page.
Roboto Is a Four-Headed Frankenfont ★
When an alphabet has such unrelated glyphs it can taste completely
different depending on the word. “Fudge” is casual and
contemporary. “Marshmallow” is rigid and classical. This is
not a typeface. It’s a tossed salad. Or a four-headed
Frankenstein. You never know which personality you’ll get.
Here’s his graphic showing the four typefaces from which Roboto seems to be derived.
Roboto vs. Helvetica ★
I was too kind last night. Roboto is a Helvetica rip-off. It’s Google’s Arial.
Remembering Steve Jobs ★
New from Apple:
Over a million people from all over the world have shared their
memories, thoughts, and feelings about Steve. One thing they all
have in common — from personal friends to colleagues to owners
of Apple products — is how they’ve been touched by his passion
and creativity. You can view some of these messages below.
I’ll Just Cherry-Pick the Negative Part Because I’m a Biased Pro-Apple Shill, Not Because It’s Further Proof That Android Has Endemic Performance Problems or Anything Like That ★
Vlad Savov, hands-on with the just-announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
As to overall performance, we saw a good deal of stutter in the
Galaxy Nexus before us. Taps were not always recognized and there
were occasional delays in performing an instruction, though in
Google’s defense, it was a phone fully loaded with running tasks
and the software is being continually improved and optimized (i.e.
it’s not yet fully baked). That having been said, it
unfortunately remains the case that Android isn’t as swift and
responsive as iOS or Windows Phone (or even MeeGo Harmattan on the
N9). Or at least it wasn’t on the demo phone we got a look at.
The subtle, pervasive lag that has characterized the Android UI
since it inception is still there, which is not a heartening thing
to hear when you’re talking about a super-powered dual-core
device like the Galaxy Nexus.
See also: Mike Rundle.
I wouldn’t call it a Helvetica rip-off (like Arial), but Android 4’s new system font Roboto is definitely a lot more Helvetica-esque than Droid Sans (the old Android font) was. I’d say it’s like a cross between Helvetica and DIN, but inherited more of Helvetica’s genes. Here’s a comparison I just whipped up between the two — each word set once in each font. (Helvetica on the top, Roboto on the bottom, in case you can’t tell the difference.) I doubt most people could tell them apart, and the uppercase R is almost shameless.
Definitely a better-looking typeface than Droid Sans, though, that’s for sure.
Joshua Topolsky Interviews Matias Duarte on the Design of Android 4.0 ★
“Across the board Google and Android is taking design a lot more
seriously,” Matias says, and points out that Roboto is used
throughout the system. “There’s this thing that’s happening
right now in user interface design that I find kind of shackling.
The faux wood paneling trend, and the airport lavatory signage
trend.” He laughs when he says this and pulls up a slide on his
computer, a split screen of an Atari 2600 and… airport lavatory
signage. It’s an obvious dig at both Apple and Microsoft.
“The biggest problem behind these trends is not anything about
the aesthetic quality about them, but rather the framework that
they impose on everything else,” he opines. “Right now if you
look at all of these applications that are designed in this
real-objecty, faux wood paneling, faux brushed metal, faux jelly
button kind of thing… if you step back and you really look at
them, they look kind of juvenile. They’re not photorealistic,
After a weekend using the rich Corinthian leather of Find My Friends, I’m open to this line of thinking.
EFF Gets Privacy Answers From Amazon Regarding Silk ★
We are generally satisfied with the privacy design of Silk, and
happy that the end user has control over whether to use cloud
Playboy’s Correspondence With Hunter S. Thompson ★
P.S. — Inre: Qui’s request for “my hangover cure” — it’s 12 Amyl
Nitrites (one box), in conjunction with as many beers as
Apple’s Quarter in Charts ★
Nice overview from Dan Frommer.
Apple Predicts Record iPhone, iPad Sales and Hints at a $40 Billion Quarter ★
Apple is so confident that next quarter is going to be a blow-out
quarter that twice on their earnings call today, Apple CEO Tim
Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer went out of their way to predict
that Apple would see record iPhone and iPad sales next quarter.
That’s something Apple never does. Their guidance is always very
general (and again, low) and they stick to talking about things at
a high level. Not today. This is two Apple executives going out on
a limb to predict records for their two key products next quarter.
Dan Lyons Interviews Woz ★
So we made Breakout and it was a half-man-year job but we did it
in four days and nights. It was a very clever design.
Instapaper 4.0 ★
Great update to a great app and service.
‘This Remarkably Sucky, Shoddy, Sloppy, Slapped Together Disaster of a Phone’ ★
That’s Louis Bedigian, writing for Forbes, describing the iPhone 4S.
‘Bigger Than the PC Market’ ★
From The Verge’s liveblog coverage of Apple’s quarterly analyst call:
Q: How big do you think the tablet market could be?
A: (Tim Cook) We thought from the beginning that it would be a
huge market, and it’s even bigger than we thought. We think
it’ll be even bigger than the PC market — that’s just what I
think it can be. It’s a huge opportunity for Apple across time.
Think about that.
Dropbox Profile at Forbes ★
Victoria Barret at Forbes, on the inside story of Dropbox:
In December 2009 Jobs beckoned Houston (pronounced like the New
York City street, not the Texas city) and his partner, Arash
Ferdowsi, for a meeting at his Cupertino office. “I mean,
Steve friggin’ Jobs,” remembers Houston, now 28. “How do you
even prepare for that?” When Houston whipped out his laptop for
a demo, Jobs, in his signature jeans and black turtleneck, coolly
waved him away: “I know what you do.”
So for everyone who’s ever asked why Apple didn’t just buy Dropbox, the answer — according to the Dropbox founders at least — is that they tried.
Total Android 3 Tablets Sold to Date: 3.4 Million ★
That’s less than the number of iPhone 4S’s Apple sold last weekend.
Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results ★
The Company sold 17.07 million iPhones in the quarter,
representing 21 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.
Apple sold 11.12 million iPads during the quarter, a 166 percent
unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4.89
million Macs during the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase over
the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 6.62 million iPods, a 27 percent
unit decline from the year-ago quarter.
Net profit is $6.62 billion, up from $4.31 billion a year ago.
Good numbers, but for once they fell short of analyst expectations. Note though, that Apple didn’t miss its own guidance — just the pulled-out-of-thin-air consensus guidance of Wall Street analysts.
Update: The stock price is down almost 7 percent in after-hours trading; probably a good time to buy.
‘Four Months With Android: Reflections, Grievances and Some Tenuous Metaphors Bundled Up Into a Weighty Tome’ ★
Ryan Heise, summarizing his four months using Android:
Another short winded point, as I’ve gone over this before.
Android’s stock browser, Browser, is trash compared to Mobile
Safari. It is slow (often to the point of being unusable),
renders sites poorly all too often, and is generally a bad
experience. And I’m letting the atrociousness of the Droid
family of fonts slide.
He’s got a nice comparison video, illustrating his point. His whole write-up matches my own experience with the Nexus S, really.
Motorola Motoactv ★
I’m not sure if they’re ripping off Apple’s iPod Nano, or Samsung’s business model of ripping off Apple designs.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at Web 2.0 ★
Amir Efrati, reporting for the WSJ from the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco:
Twitter is all about “simplicity in a world of complexity,”
Costolo said. “Apple thinks about things the same way.”
This is true, I think. As is this, from later in the interview:
Google and Facebook “will be different from the experiences we
want to offer to our users,” he said.
Sprint Ad on Back Cover of the New Issue of Rolling Stone ★
Dr. Drang on iMessage ★
Obviously, if you (or someone on your plan, like Dr. Drang’s daughter) send and receive many messages to non-iOS device users, then sure, obviously, you still need a big or unlimited SMS plan. But almost everyone I text to or from has an iPhone. I hardly need SMS any more. And this weekend in Canada at the Çingleton Symposium, none of us Americans in attendance needed to worry about international texting costs (at least while on Wi-Fi).
It’s at least as big a deal as BBM, right? And BBM is a big deal for RIM.
Mail Improvements in iOS 5 ★
Nice overview of what’s new in Mail in iOS 5 by Jeff Richardson.
Update: My pal Koz says Richardson missed the number-one new feature in Mail — the ability to turn off the unread message count icon badge. (Settings: Notifications: Mail: Badge App Icon.)
iOS 5 Cache Cleaning ★
Marco Arment on a subtle but potentially far-reaching change in iOS 5:
There’s no longer anywhere to store files that don’t need to
be backed up (or can’t be, by the new policy) but shouldn’t be
randomly deleted. This is problematic for lots of apps […].
This kicks in when free space is low, so it’s going to affect people with 8 and 16 GB devices more than those with 32 and 64 GB devices.
Character-by-Character Insertion Point Movement in iOS iWork Apps ★
Interesting tip: in the new iOS iWork apps, you can move the insertion point one character at a time by swiping left/right. This isn’t a system-wide shortcut, though — it only works in Numbers, Pages, and Keynote.
Update: You can swipe with two fingers to move forward/back a word at a time, and three for the entire line — but I find these gestures hard to use, especially on the iPhone. If they’re not perfectly horizontal they scroll the view.
Update 2: DF reader Dave Tach, via email:
For whatever it’s worth, the trick seems to be to peck in the
direction you want the cursor to move rather than to swipe. If
your fingers stay on the glass for more than the tiniest fraction
of a second, then you wind up scrolling the view.
This works like a charm for me, and is especially helpful for the word-wise two-finger gesture.
iOS Fonts ★
Starting with iOS 5, the same 58 font families are now installed on both the iPad and iPhone. Hooray for more Gill Sans on the iPhone. (Fonts installed on Android: 3.)
A Trick That Lets You Hide – But Not Use – iOS 5 Newsstand in a Folder ★
I’ve been asked by several DF readers if there’s a way to put Newsstand into a folder. Officially, no, there isn’t. The reason is that Newsstand is really a folder — it’s just a magic folder created by and controlled by the system, not you. And iOS doesn’t let you put folders into folders.
Here’s a trick from Dave Caolo that will let you do it. (And because Newsstand really is just a folder, the same trick lets you put any folder into another folder.)
It’s clearly a bug though: once you do this, you cannot open any such folder-in-a-folder, and if you try, Springboard (the app that is the iOS home screen) will crash. So this is really only useful for those of you who not only don’t want Newsstand, but who can’t even bear the thought of stashing it on your last home screen.
I think iOS’s built-in support for Twitter is a huge deal. Effectively, iOS now treats tweeting as a peer to SMS and email. Anywhere where you could previously send something by text or email, you now should have the option to tweet it, too.
El Presidente ★
This week’s episode of The Talk Show:
iOS 5, the iPhone 4S, Siri, the new camera, RAM usage and battery
life on the iOS platform, the conclusion of the 2011 baseball
season, and hints about the next series of movie reviews.
Also: my pitch for a new show starring Bob Newhart and Tim Conway. Brought to you by the fine folks at Squarespace (special coupon code “IDONTKNOW10”), EasyDNS (coupon code “5BY5”), and Rackspace Cloud.
Against Close Buttons ★
John Kneeland argues that close buttons are wrong for iOS:
The most egregious example of this interface inconsistency is in
the teeny tiny close buttons that pop up on the iOS interface when
you want to close apps in the app switcher, delete apps from the
homescreen, or close a browser tab. It’s even worse in Apple’s
new iOS notifications system, which decided being hard to use
wasn’t enough and it should be hard to see as well.
In the case of closing Safari pages, he argues that WebOS does it right, with its flicking gesture to close cards.
It’s a good argument, but I disagree. The advantage of explicit close buttons is that they are obvious. No one has to explain to someone how to close a page in Mobile Safari on the iPhone — the X-in-red-circle is explicit and obvious. If that weren’t there and you had to flick pages to the top of the screen to discard them, users who didn’t know about or remember the gesture would be lost.
Gestures, to me, are the touchscreen equivalent of keyboard shortcuts: a convenient alternative, but almost never a good choice for the primary interface for a task. So, sure, it’d be nice if you could flick pages to the top of the screen to close them in Mobile Safari, but keep the red close button there too.
The key to iOS’s success is that you can figure almost everything out just by looking at it. If a button is too hard to tap (like the ones in Notification Center — Kneeland is right about that) the solution is to make them bigger, not to get rid of them.
iOS 5 Tips, Tricks, and Hidden Features ★
Good list from Chris Herbert at MacStories.
‘Not Really Focused on the Device’ ★
Khidr Suleman, on an interview with Michael Dell at “Dell World 2011”:
Dell did play down the failure of products such as the Dell Streak
to make an impact on the market.
“Within the $3 trillion industry that we’re in, the consumer
business is worth $250bn. Dell is much more focused on providing a
complete set of solutions to customers, including the device, but
we’re not really focused on the device.”
“Not really focused on the device”? Good luck with that.
Speaking of Grains of Salt Regarding Businessweek Stories ★
From a Peter Burrows piece for Businessweek, “Working With Steve Jobs”, interviewing former AOL CEO Barry Schuler:
Steve Jobs was a genius, but he knew his limits.
“He was never a guy who tried to make believe he had expertise
in something,” said Barry Schuler, now a partner at venture
capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
That was clear to Schuler when he got a call from Jobs in early
1997 to come over to his old offices at NeXT Software in Redwood
City, Calif. Jobs, at that point, hadn’t yet agreed to run Apple
on a permanent basis.
“What’s this Internet thing?” Schuler recalled Jobs asking.
“I don’t get it. What are people doing on it? What do they
like about it?”
Steve Jobs didn’t get the Internet? In 1997? OK, sure. Here’s Steve Jobs, in his classic interview with Wired in 1996:
The Web is exciting for two reasons. One, it’s ubiquitous. There
will be Web dial tone everywhere. And anything that’s ubiquitous
gets interesting. Two, I don’t think Microsoft will figure out a
way to own it. There’s going to be a lot more innovation, and that
will create a place where there isn’t this dark cloud of
If you look at things I’ve done in my life, they have an element
of democratizing. The Web is an incredible democratizer. A small
company can look as large as a big company and be as accessible as
a big company on the Web. Big companies spend hundreds of millions
of dollars building their distribution channels. And the Web is
going to completely neutralize that advantage.
Yeah, he didn’t get it at all.
Update: Here’s Jobs in 1985 — 1985! — in his classic interview with Playboy:
The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for
the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications
network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a
truly remarkable breakthrough for most people — as remarkable as
Thanks to John Siracusa for the link.
Doing Things That Can’t Be Done ★
Herb Sutter on Dennis Ritchie:
C is a poster child for why it’s essential to keep those people
who know a thing can’t be done from bothering the people who are
Businessweek Profiles Scott Forstall ★
Adam Satariano, Peter Burrows and Brad Stone:
Some former associates of Forstall, none of whom would comment on
the record for fear of alienating Apple, say he routinely takes
credit for collaborative successes, deflects blame for mistakes,
and is maddeningly political. They say he has such a fraught
relationship with other members of the executive team—including
lead designer Jony Ive and Mac hardware chief Bob Mansfield—that
they avoid meetings with him unless Tim Cook is present.
I’m taking that with a grain of salt, given the anonymous sourcing, but if true, that’s not good. Good piece overall, though, and there’s no argument that Forstall is now The Man when it comes to all things iOS.
Update: The thing to keep in mind while reading a piece like this is that no one who currently works with, admires, or even likes Forstall is going to talk to reporters for a profile like this. Their sources are — and they acknowledge this in the article — people who dislike him and didn’t work well with him, or who at least have left the company. But in broad terms I think the portrait they paint in this piece is accurate: Forstall is polarizing within Apple, he’s hard to work under because he’s extremely demanding, and he probably is the most political — or at least politically adept — senior executive in the company.
Also, this bit from the article is the only real “WTF” in the piece:
At weekly Monday meetings, Apple executives disagreed about
matters all the time, but could count on Jobs to make the final
call. Its board of directors must find a new chairman and take a
more assertive role guiding the company.
I’d say this is pretty much exactly the opposite of what Apple’s board should do.
Dan Moren Reviews iOS 5 ★
Great overview of the major new features. I’ve been running the developer seeds on my main iPhone for so long, that I’ve forgotten that some of this stuff is new.
See also: Rene Ritchie’s comprehensive iOS 5 walkthrough at TiPb.
Fire Spotter ★
Glorious new limited-edition Field Notes notebooks. Turn up the volume and watch the movie on the biggest display you can find.
Matt Taibbi’s Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters ★
Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of
stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of
derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the
bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits
the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the
endless chase for instant profits through computerized
insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force
Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e.,
making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching
The Last Time I Saw Steve Jobs ★
One of my favorite stories heard this week. So great.
R.I.P. Dennis Ritchie ★
Creator of the C programming language, co-creator of Unix. A true titan of computer science.
iTunes Movie Trailers App ★
File under “the shift from websites to apps”. (Via MacStories.)
AirPort Utility for iPhone and iPad ★
In the future, you don’t need a Mac or Windows PC, and the future is getting near.
Apple Releases Find My Friends ★
Sporting soft Corinthian leather upholstery.
One Downside of iCloud Replacing MobileMe: Third-Party Mac App Uncertainty ★
Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo FAQ:
Q: Can I use Yojimbo with iCloud?
A: All existing versions of Yojimbo require MobileMe to perform
Mac-to-Mac syncing; they will not work with iCloud.
Thus, if you wish to continue syncing Yojimbo, you should not
convert your account to use iCloud at this time. (Apple will
continue to offer MobileMe service through June 30, 2012.)
We do intend to support iCloud in a future version of Yojimbo
(well before the MobileMe sunset date). However, since we are
still investigating related technical issues, we don’t yet have
a concrete answer; as soon as we do, we’ll post info on our
The loss of MobileMe syncing in Yojimbo is the only sore spot I’ve run into after switching my MobileMe account to iCloud. MobileMe syncing in Yojimbo worked great; now, because I’ve moved to iCloud, it’s gone.
Now, long-term, this might prove to be a boon for Mac developers like Bare Bones, because iCloud is free, and MobileMe is not, so, eventually, when Yojimbo supports iCloud for syncing, far more users should be willing and able to take advantage of that. But iCloud storage for Mac developers, though promising, is still a bag of question marks.
Here’s a big one: will iCloud storage for Mac apps be restricted to App Store apps? That’s been a question since WWDC in June and Apple has yet to answer it. My gut feeling/semi-informed hunch is that yes, it will be restricted to App Store apps, so that Apple can approve all iCloud storage use cases in advance, and easily pull the plug on any app that proves to be abusive in the wild. Put another way, my bet is that if your app isn’t signed by Apple, it won’t be able to write to an iCloud container. But no one outside Apple knows yet.
Drama on the Sprint International Unlocking Front ★
Some confusion here. First Sprint tells Engadget:
Our SIM does not come out of the device - I believe the same is
true of Verizon’s iPhone but you would need to confirm that with
them. Customers can sign up for one of our international rate
plans and use this phone all over the world.
But then, in an update, Sprint changes its tune, saying “the SIM is removable and is not affixed to the device”.
I can confirm that the SIM card pops out of the Sprint iPhone 4S, but I don’t know what the deal is with international roaming and prepaid SIMs. I’ll have the phone with me in Montreal this weekend, so I should be able to find out then.
Windows Phone, One Year In ★
During the last quarter for which we have data (ending June) I
have an estimate that Windows Phone sold only 1.4 million units
(Gartner’s sell-through analysis suggests 1.7 million). That
gives Microsoft a 1.3% share of units sold (Gartner 1.6%), a
In other words, for that entire quarter, they sold about as many total Windows Phones as Apple sold iPhone 4S preorders last weekend. This must be frustrating for Microsoft — Windows Phone 7 is better than Android from what I’ve seen. And even if you disagree with that assessment, I don’t see how anyone could say its quality and appeal are proportionate to its sales figures. Getting traction in the market is hard.
(Anyone at Microsoft: I’d welcome a Mango phone to review. Get in touch if you can make that happen.)
Getting Started With iCloud ★
Nice overview by Serenity Caldwell at Macworld.
How Gizmodo Escaped Indictment in Last Year’s iPhone Prototype Theft ★
Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh, reporting for CNet:
“What we were looking at was possession of stolen property and
whether the evidence supported extortion,” Wagstaffe said. “You
can say we were looking at whether their actions supported that
they participated in the theft of the phone. We didn’t think it
Wagstaffe said, however, that his office’s review of the computers
seized from Chen’s home showed the correspondence between Gizmodo
editors was “juvenile.”
“It was obvious that they were angry with the company about not
being invited to some press conference or some big Apple event. We
expected to see a certain amount of professionalism — this is
like 15-year-old children talking,” Wagstaffe said. “There was so
much animosity, and they were very critical of Apple. They talked
about having Apple right where they wanted them and they were
really going to show them.”
RAM vs. Energy Consumption ★
So why didn’t the iPhone 4S go from 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM? Only Apple knows for sure, but I found this blog post from Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky interesting:
Something that might not be obvious is that minimizing memory
usage on low-power platforms can prolong battery life. Huh? In any
PC, RAM is constantly consuming power. If an OS uses a lot of
memory, it can force device manufacturers to include more physical
RAM. The more RAM you have on board, the more power it uses, the
less battery life you get. Having additional RAM on a tablet
device can, in some instances, shave days off the amount of time
the tablet can sit on your coffee table looking off but staying
fresh and up to date.
I’d always thought that the trade-off with more RAM was simply a matter of price. More RAM costs more money. I’d never thought of it as a factor in battery life.
How International Is the iPhone 4S ‘World Phone?’ ★
But there’s a new wrinkle that potentially makes the
international-roaming experience better on Sprint and Verizon
iPhones than it is on AT&T. Sprint plans to sell the iPhone 4S
with its micro-SIM slot unlocked; Verizon’s will be initially
locked, but if you’ve been a customer in good standing for 60
days, you can call Verizon and ask for an “international
So if you’re a Sprint or Verizon iPhone 4S customer traveling
internationally, you can buy a pre-paid micro-SIM card with
dramatically cheaper rates for data and voice calling, rather than
pay for international roaming offered by U.S. carriers to their
Very cool. And keep in mind that while your phone number changes with a pre-paid SIM, your iCloud ID doesn’t, so you can use iMessage to send and receive messages from other iOS users.
A Conversation With Siri ★
Video of Jason Snell using Siri. Matches my experience. Mostly amazing, sometimes just doesn’t get you, but even when that happens, it’s usually easy to correct/clarify what you mean. (See the rest of Snell’s iPhone 4S review here.)
Apple’s 1987 Knowledge Navigator, Only One Month Late ★
So, 24 years ago, Apple predicted a complex natural-language
voice assistant built into a touchscreen Apple device, and was
less than a month off.
iPhone 4S Benchmarks Start Leaking Out ★
As promised by Apple, graphics performance is up about 7×.
You Are Underestimating the Future ★
Michael Lopp, on Steve Jobs’s 1997 WWDC closing keynote:
I was an Apple employee for eight and half years and I didn’t
see the video until after I’d left the company. For those who
worked there and for those who have watched Apple’s success,
what resonates from this crackly old video is that it was clear
that Steve could see the future. He may have given features,
products, and strategies different names at the time, but so much
of what Apple has become is described in a video from almost 14
BBM Server Takes a BM ★
Charles Arthur, reporting for The Guardian:
Smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM) is facing a user revolt
after tens of millions of users in Europe, the Middle East and
Africa suffered a second day without services such as BlackBerry
Messenger (BBM), as the company struggled with problems at its hub
in Slough, Berkshire.
The company also revealed that the areas affected now include
South America, with users in Brazil, Chile and Argentina suffering
loss of service.
Starting to feel bad for RIM.
‘That’s What I Wear. I Have Enough to Last for the Rest of My Life.’ ★
Gawker has an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s imminent Jobs biography, regarding his iconic wardrobe.
Completely Broken, All Right ★
Speaking of Paul Thurrott, here’s a prediction of his from just before last week’s event:
I have one prediction of my own. And that is that Apple will
completely revamp the very much broken external antenna design
that it saddled iPhone 4 users with.
Good call — the 4S antenna looks totally different.
Oh, Wait, THIS Is What Explains the iPhone 4S Preordering Success ★
Apple’s lackluster iPhone 4S garnered more than 1 million
preorders in its first 24 hours of availability, though much of
that is likely tied to the delayed launch.
Sure, so I guess when Apple announces its quarterly results next week, they’ll say that iPhone 4 sales dropped precipitously over the last three months. Right?
CSS Shaders: Cinematic Effects for HTML ★
So, yeah: Adobe’s using Flash-derived technology to make HTML5
more competitive with Flash.
Crazy, right? Not at all: this increases your ability to present
visually rich experiences, and that increases Adobe’s ability to
sell you tools for creating those experiences. The different
playback technologies are just means to those ends.
More like this, please.
‘Your Heart Running Around Outside Your Body’ ★
Eric Schmidt on Steve Jobs:
Steve and I were talking about children one time, and he said the
problem with children is that they carry your heart with them. The
exact phrase was, “It’s your heart running around outside your
body.” That’s a Steve Jobs quote. He had a level of perception
about feelings and emotions that was far beyond anything I’ve
met in my entire life.
Update: Love the sentiment, but it’s not original to Jobs. It’s from Elizabeth Stone.
Did You Hear They Invented Indoor Plumbing? ★
Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson:
I do not own an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod or a Mac. I abandoned my
typewriter only recently. In short, I have not enlisted in the
digital revolution. […]
By history’s measure, [Steve] Jobs’s achievements are tiny.
[Jobs’s] modest legacy will fade with time. A century from now,
historians and ordinary Americans will still remember Edison and
Ford. Jobs will be a footnote, if that.
Guy who admits he only recently gave up his typewriter thinks Steve Jobs’s achievements are “tiny”. Stay relevant, pal.
Oh, That Explains the iPhone 4S Pre-Ordering Success ★
Wendy Li, writing for The International Business Times:
However, when iPhone 4S was launched, Apple fans were disappointed
somehow, for they were expecting the redesigned iPhone 5 as rumors
suggested. Naturally, many analysts had predicted a subdued
response to iPhone 4S.
But no one foresaw that the tech genius Jobs would suddenly pass
away, only one day after iPhone 4S was released. Jobs’ demise
stirred sadness and grief around the world and it’s believed that
Jobs’ untimely death has rocketed demand for iPhone 4S from
Sure, that’s the explanation. It certainly couldn’t be that people love what they’ve heard about the iPhone 4S and simply want to buy one and would have done the same even if Steve Jobs hadn’t died, and that the “4S is disappointing” naysayers are the same bunch of dummies who dismissed the iPad 2 and iPhone 3GS as well.
The initial disappointment was replaced by fans’ strong desire to
remember Jobs, according to Barbara Sullivan, Managing Partner of
Sullivan, a branding and marketing agency. “The preorders may also
be part of respect for what Jobs has done,” she said. “It’s almost
like putting flowers by his headquarters.”
Apple iPhone 3GS Disappoints ★
Twice as fast and an improved camera? That’s it? Hmm, sounds familiar.
Peter Sichel: ‘When Market Share Is Used to Mislead’ ★
Many reviewers don’t even realize what the product is. They still
believe the iPhone or iPad is mostly a hardware product defined by
its specifications. Apple has invested 10 times more R&D resources
to create the iOS software and supporting eco system than its
hardware. Apple didn’t design the hardware to match some feature
checklist, they designed it to make their software amaze and
delight customers, to create an emotional connection that effects
peoples lives. To compare the iPhone or iPad to other products
primarily on their hardware specifications is not representative
of the quality of experience users are likely to have with the
I suspect most people will read the above and either think that it correctly describes everything that’s wrong with the rest of the industry, or, that Sichel exemplifies everything that’s wrong with Apple users and developers. There’s no middle ground here.
5by5: Thank You, Steve Jobs ★
Likewise, from 5by5:
A collection of stories, thoughts, and memories about Steve Jobs
and Apple by 5by5 hosts and friends, expressing how their lives
have been changed for the better by Steve and Apple.
Your Mac Life: Steve Jobs, In Memoriam ★
Speaking of Shawn King, he put together a nice episode of Your Mac Life with a dozen Apple writers’ memories of Steve Jobs.
iPhone 4S Rumor Accounting ★
Shawn King’s Stupid Apple Rumors site tracks the accuracy of Apple-related rumor sites. The results over the last 10 weeks: terrible.
Long before I started Daring Fireball, I often wondered how hard it would be to run an Apple rumor site with a high degree of accuracy. The answer is obvious in hindsight: it’d be easy. Wait until you get something you know to be accurate, and run it. The problem is the waiting part. What happens if you go a week, a month, or even months between any accurate information? The site goes dry. So the choice facing rumor sites is this: they can be accurate, but publish only sporadically; or they can publish random sensational bullshit on a frequent basis. There is no way to publish accurate Apple rumors on a frequent basis.
Harry McCracken, on accusations by Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond that Steve Jobs built freedom-sapping digital “prisons”:
Tyranny? Nope, sorry. People who use Apple products considered
their options, and chose Apple. If they regret their decision,
they can dump it at any time. If you call Apple tyrannical,
you’re using a definition of the word so loose as to strip it of
any real meaning whatsoever.
It’s ridiculous. In a real prison, you can’t choose to leave.
Charlie Stross Argues for a Bigger iPhone ★
Charlie Stross, iPhone-user, makes the case for a 4-inch display.
I disagree with his assumption that one-handed usage is mostly about voice calls. I use my iPhone one-handed, as a communications device, all the time. It is true that typing works far better two-handed, but Siri should alleviate that problem too, particularly for tweet/SMS-length input.
Good argument, though.
The iPad Marches On ★
New numbers from Comscore:
2011, iPads delivered 97.2 percent of all tablet traffic in the U.S.
iPads have also begun to account for a higher share of Internet
traffic than iPhones (46.8 percent vs. 42.6 percent of all iOS device
Wonder which tablets split the other 2.8 percent?
Comparing Big-Ass Smartphone Screens to 1950s Tail Fins ★
This is the absolutist position, and I don’t agree with it. I don’t think 4-inch and bigger screens are silly or needless. For some purposes, bigger is better, and for people who value those purposes, these are better devices. What I believe is that 3.5-inches (or so) is the sweet spot — the best trade-off.
But I do think there’s a Pepsi Challenge type effect going on here. The thing with the Pepsi Challenge was that most people preferred (and prefer today) the taste of Coke over Pepsi, when drinking a full serving. But, when you only take a sip or two of each, people tend to prefer whichever is sweeter, and that was Pepsi. Some people really do prefer Pepsi, of course. But I think there are a bunch of people buying big-ass Android phones after taking just a sip or two in the store.
The Seattle Times interviews Windows Phone chief Andy Lees:
Q: Do you think the iPhone 4S (running on iOS 5) gives you an
opening? Do you think they missed an opportunity there?
A: Yes I do. I think, from an end user’s experience on the
software, there’s a lot of interesting reviews written
comparing us to iOS 5 and the amount that we’ve got done in 11
months — so some people (are) making comparisons of pace. […]
From a pure hardware perspective, I was surprised they’re not
giving the consumer more choice. People want a variety of
So there have been one million pre-orders for Windows Phone 7 devices running Mango?
iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Top One Million in First 24 Hours ★
How will Apple recover from this debacle?
Netflix U-Turn ★
Zero points for consistency.
Square Now Processing $2 Billion in Payments Per Year ★
Gaining traction fast.
Android phones have been one-upping each other with screen size a lot recently. It’s an interesting tactic that seems to be working, at least relative to other Android phones. When comparing phones side-by-side in a store, the larger screens really do look more appealing, and I bet a lot of people don’t consider the practical downsides.
Apple generally tries to make it instantly obvious which of its products are better — what the trade-offs are. 16/32/64 GB: pay more, get more storage. iPhone 4S vs. 4: faster, better camera, Siri.
Bigger-screen iPhone proponents are telling me via email that they don’t necessarily want Apple to replace the 3.5-inch models with a 4-point-something inch one — just want a bigger screen model added to the lineup. But then which is “better”? I think it’s likely that many customers’ intuition would tell them that bigger must be better, and they’d make a choice they’d come to regret. What appeals to you in-store, side-by-side, isn’t necessarily what will appeal to you in long-term actual use.
Panic of the Plutocrats ★
The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.
This is clearly political, but what’s interesting is that it’s not conservative/liberal, and it’s definitely not Republican/Democrat — both our national parties are the parties of Wall Street. For now.