Tapstream for iOS, Mac, and Android ★
My favorite part: Tapstream was built by app developers for app developers, and one of the ways they tested it was to measure the effectiveness of a Daring Fireball RSS feed sponsorship. The result: they booked two more DF sponsorships.
World’s Longest Corner ★
Andru Edwards, back in February 2008, “Flash on iPhone Is Just Around the Corner”:
Well, we’ve just got word from a reliable source that Flash
support is on its way to the iPhone, and it should be coming very,
Apple Granted Preliminary Sales Ban of Galaxy Nexus ★
Chris Davies, writing for Slashgear:
Apple has been granted a preliminary sales injunction against the
Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the US, with the Cupertino company now
required to stump up a $96m bond in order to secure the ban. The
decision was tweeted by Reuters’ Dan Levine, and follows a win
earlier this week for Apple against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1,
with the US court granting a preliminary injunction against the
Android tablet in the US.
What does this mean for the Nexus 7?
Don’t Annoy Users ★
It’s easy to figure out why Apple doesn’t want default third-party
apps. It would cede control of the iOS experience to
third-parties. Imagine a Google user with an iPhone replacing most
of the core apps with Google counterparts. An iPhone home screen
with Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Docs, Calendar, Contacts, Music, Maps,
Listen, Now, and Google+ is Apple’s worst nightmare. Unhappy
iPhone users who would like to use Google services in a more
integrated manner and can’t are also Apple’s worst nightmare.
No, Apple’s worst nightmare is someone buying an Android phone instead of an iPhone. If you buy an iPhone, Apple wins, that’s all there is to it. Every iOS user who chooses to use a third-party app as their preferred client for web browsing, email, calendaring, etc. is annoyed every single time they click a web/email/event URL and are taken to an iOS system app that they don’t want to use.
“Don’t annoy users” is a good rule of thumb, and the inability to specify third-party apps as default handlers for these things is annoying.
If Apple does not want iOS users to use Chrome (to name one example), they should not have allowed it into the App Store. If they allowed it into the App Store, then they should allow it to be specified as the default browser.
On the Lack of User-Choosable Default Apps in iOS ★
I suspect the reason is because of the deep system integration of
things like Safari, Mail, Contacts, and the like. Take Mail, for
example, if you could set Sparrow as your default client on iOS
you’d still have to configure Mail because any email sent from
other apps uses the Mail API. Then rely on IMAP to sync those
things up. Inelegant and un-Apple.
That’s a good point about email, but it doesn’t apply to web browsing. There is no “Safari” sheet in iOS. And even for email, the answer is that iOS should allow third-party apps — like Sparrow — to provide their own system-wide sharing sheets.
The iPhone’s Effect on the Phone Industry ★
Greg Gretsch, on Twitter:
Since release of iPhone 5 years ago, market caps of companies most
affected: $AAPL +376%; $GOOG +9%; $RIMM -85%; $NOK -89%
I’ll add two more:
WSJ: ‘Research in Motion Says Its New BlackBerry 10 Smartphone Won’t Be Released Until First-Quarter 2013’ ★
What’s the over/under that RIM is still an independent company in Q1 2013?
‘Hot Ladies in Movies’ ★
This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with two special guests: John August and Adam Lisagor. Topics include Google’s announcements at I/O, Apple’s new Podcasts app, creating apps to solve your own problems, and a whole bunch of talk about movies and filmmaking.
Brought to you by two great sponsors that go great together: Olloclip, a three-in-one camera lens accessory for the iPhone 4/4S; and Camera Plus Pro, a killer camera/photo filtering app for iPhone.
Bertrand Serlet’s Stealth Startup: Upthere ★
Speaking of Apple executives who went out on top, Seth Flegerman at Business Insider has a wee bit of a scoop on what Bertrand Serlet is up to. I heard a whiff about this at WWDC; he’s definitely got some A-list UI designers on board.
Update: Upthere’s simple job-listing page.
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, to Retire ★
“Bob has been an instrumental part of our executive team, leading
the hardware engineering organization and overseeing the team that
has delivered dozens of breakthrough products over the years,”
said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are very sad to have him leave and
hope he enjoys every day of his retirement.” […]
As senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, Mansfield has
led Mac hardware engineering since 2005, iPhone and iPod hardware
engineering since 2010, and iPad hardware engineering since its
inception. Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 when Apple acquired
Raycer Graphics, where he was vice president of Engineering.
Mansfield earned a BSEE degree from the University of Texas at
Austin in 1982.
It’s a high-pressure job. Tim Bucher cracked and got fired from it in 2004, and it was ugly. Mark Papermaster was shown the door in 2010 after Antennagate.
Mansfield, to my knowledge, is going out on top.
Microsoft’s New Home Page ★
No idea why this is a “Preview” — they should just ship it. Really nice design work.
Adobe Confirms It Won’t Support Flash on Android 4.1, Stops New Flash Installs From Google Play on August 15 ★
Good thing no one ever thought the lack of Flash Player support on the iPhone was a problem, otherwise I’d have to look it all up and I’d be cooking claim chowder all day.
Tim Bray Now Working on Identity at Google ★
I’ve become fascinated by the tech and policy and developer
issues around OAuth, and two things seem obvious to me:
Usernames and passwords generally suck and obviously don’t
scale to the Internet, so we need to do away with ’em soonest.
The new technology coming down the pipe, OAuth 2 and friends,
is way too hard for developers; there need to be better tools
and services if we’re going to make this whole Internet thing
smoother and safer.
No doubt in my mind that this is one of the big problems to be solved for the industry over the next decade, and Bray’s two-point bullet list is exactly right: the username/password solution is bad for users in numerous ways, but whatever eventually replaces it needs to be easy for developers.
RIM Chiefs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie’s Best Quotes ★
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie were the co-chief executives and
co-chairmen of Research In Motion from its inception in the 1990s
through to their resignation from the position in January 2012.
Along the way, the company grew to a behemoth by exploiting its
unique combination of secure email and keyboard-driven handset —
but they also missed some key technology changes that are now
sweeping RIM away.
They pretty much got everything wrong for the last six years.
Vintage Five-Year iPhone Claim Chowder ★
Five Years Ago: iPhone ★
Yours truly, five years ago:
I’m just blown away by how nice it is — very thoughtful UI design
and outstanding engineering. It is very fun.
I love that I considered the screen “high resolution”.
Facebook Plans to Speed Up Its iPhone App ★
In fact, I’d venture to say that Facebook’s iPhone application is
slower than almost any of the other 499,999 apps available for the
iPhone. Thankfully that’s all going to change next month.
According to two Facebook engineers who asked not be named because
they are not authorized to speak about unreleased products,
Facebook has completely rebuilt its iOS application to optimize
for one thing: speed.
One of the Facebook engineers said the new application has been
built primarily using Objective-C, the programming language used
to build applications for iOS. Many of the components of the
current version of the Facebook app are built using HTML5, the
Web-based markup language.
Yours truly, a month ago, regarding Facebook’s new camera app:
web is not enough. Native apps are essential, thus the talent
acquisitions of superstar outfits like Sofa and Push Pop
Press. I bet Facebook has more native mobile apps on the way.
Google’s Nexus Q Is Made in the U.S. ★
Admirable and interesting, but the $299 price tag sure doesn’t seem like a “yeah, this can work” argument. And how many are they going to sell? I bet they gave away more of these to I/O attendees than they’ll sell to actual customers.
They’re not making the Nexus 7 — a device with a very competitive price and obvious appeal, and which thus should sell in significant quantities — here in the U.S.
Chitika: Google Chromebooks Account for 0.02 Percent of Desktop Web Traffic ★
Frederic Lardinois, writing for AOL/TechCrunch two weeks ago:
Across Chitika’s network, just 0.019% of all traffic comes from
ChromeOS. To put this into perspective, Sony’s PlayStation, which
isn’t exactly a web browsing powerhouse, easily beats ChromeOS
with a usage share of 0.042%.
I’m sure whatever Chromebook-related news Google announced today at I/O will turn this around.
Google Nexus Q Home Media Streamer ★
$299 living room component that has no interface of its own (other than a volume knob), and requires an Android phone or tablet to control. All it does is play music and video from the Google Play store. And judging by The Verge’s video review, it doesn’t even play video acceptably. Sure, it has a 25-watt amp, but how can this thing cost three times as much as an Apple TV?
I’m calling this thing a soon-to-be-forgotten turd.
Source Filmmaker ★
The Source Filmmaker (SFM) is the movie-making tool built and used
by us here at Valve to make movies inside the Source game engine.
Because the SFM uses the same assets as the game, anything that
exists in the game can be used in the movie, and vice versa. By
utilizing the hardware rendering power of a modern gaming PC, the
SFM allows storytellers to work in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get
environment so they can iterate in the context of what it will
feel like for the final audience.
In other words: it’s a tool built upon Valve’s game engine to make seriously good-looking animated movies.
New Firefox for Android ★
Speaking of alternative browsers for mobile OSes, here’s Jared Newman on the all-new Firefox for Android:
On my Samsung Galaxy S II, the new Firefox glides smoothly through
any web page, whether it’s optimized for mobile browsing or not.
The sidebar menus are gone, so when you want to switch tabs or
open a new one, you tap a little “plus” icon in the top-right
corner, and a list of thumbnail images drops down from the top of
the screen. When you tap on the address bar, up pops a list of
your most-visited sites, bookmarks and browsing history. Overall,
text looks more modern, and pages are easier to read.
I’ve tried it on a Galaxy Nexus, and it’s a vast improvement. Rendering, scaling, and scrolling are all pretty good — and none of those things were acceptable in the previous mobile version of Firefox. They’ve got a long way to go, though:
If you think of the new Firefox for Android as version
1.0 — technically, it’s not — some of its omissions are
understandable. At the moment you can’t select text on a page,
find text within a page or get search suggestions as you type in
the address bar. All those features are coming soon, Nightingale
said, along with a “readability mode” that renders text and images
cleanly on the page. Mozilla’s also working on a new
tablet-optimized version of Firefox for Android.
And they’re up against Chrome for Android, which is really good — arguably in the same class as Mobile Safari.
Google Announces Chrome for iPhone and iPad, Available Today ★
The app will be for iOS 4.3 and higher devices, and will be
available today. The app will also support Chrome sync, and looks
like it’s just as full-featured as the browser which many of us
know and love.
Tom Hanks on Nora Ephron ★
Supreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand ★
Put aside the politics, whether you believe this decision was right or wrong, and consider simply that no one expected a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the four liberal justices. No one. The U.S. Supreme Court does not leak.
Update: Well, OK, not no one. Someone pay Julio Garcia $300. And TPM’s Brian Beutler astutely took note of Roberts’s taxation angle when the case was argued in front of the court in March. But my point is that seemingly nothing about this decision leaked from the court itself.
‘There’s No Margin’ ★
Ina Fried, reporting for some website:
On the hardware side, Shih and Rubin feel they have something that
can serve as a full-fledged tablet computer while competing on
price with the Kindle Fire. Despite its bargain-basement price,
Shih notes that the device packs a high-end laminated display,
quad-core chip and other high-end features.
One way the companies managed that is through razor-thin margins.
Google is selling the device through its Google Play store,
essentially at cost, and also absorbing the marketing costs
associated with the device.
“When it gets sold through the Play store, there’s no margin,”
Rubin said. “It just basically gets (sold) through.”
That must be music to the ears of Sony, Samsung, Acer, HTC, and anyone else trying to sell Android tablets for, you know, a profit. Where by “music to the ears” I mean “a shit sandwich”.
And I’m sure Google’s wholly-owned Motorola division is delighted to hear that Andy Rubin doesn’t think they were capable of building this device.
‘The Future Is Invented by the People Who Don’t Give a Shit About the Past’ ★
One of my favorite Apple product announcements happened on
September 7, 2005. In an Apple music event announcement,
Steve Jobs got on stage, gave the usual state of the business
update, and then he did something I’d never seen before. He killed
a wildly successful product.
On the Profitability of iOS Game Development ★
Aaron Souppouris, writing for The Verge:
At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in Taipei today, Tim
Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, told the audience that the iOS title
Infinity Blade is “the most profitable game we’ve ever made — in
terms of man years invested versus revenue, it’s more profitable
than Gears of War.” The mobile franchise passed the $30 million
mark this January and Infinity Blade II made over $5 million in
its first month on the App Store. Sweeney said he was “very, very
surprised to see how fast smartphone and tablet devices are
improving,” adding that the pace was faster than Moore’s law.
Interesting, to be sure, that a game that sells for $5.99 would prove so profitable.
T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm Suddenly Resigns ★
I sure hope it wasn’t because he read that bogus Gizmodo story yesterday.
The Inspiration for the Tape Recorder in Apple’s New Podcasts App: the Braun TG 60 Tape Recorder ★
Nice find by Ben Lenarts — no surprise it’s a Dieter Rams design. More images.
The Resale Market for Kindle Fires ★
As we wait for the Google I/O 2012 day-one keynote address to begin, it might be worth noting the resale market for the current market-leading 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire. A DF reader in New York searched Craigslist for Kindles for sale, and found that the going price is well under $100. (Screenshot, for posterity.) Kindle Fires retail for $199. E-ink Kindles suffer no such indignity — it’s hard to find an e-ink Kindle for sale for much less than the retail price of a new one. Same is true for iPads, unsurprisingly.
So is the problem that 7-inch tablets are a bad size, or that the Kindle Fire is simply a bad 7-inch tablet? Or both?
Update: On Twitter, Carl Anderson suggests another possibility: that these cheap Kindle Fires on Craigslist are scams. Certainly possible, but then why aren’t there similar scam listings for e-ink Kindles and for the far more popular iPad?
Alex Knight on Apple’s New Podcasts App ★
Alex Knight does not like it:
The navigation experience for discovering podcasts is clunky.
Instead of a simple grid or list layout for shows based on
category, you have to switch views to access the iTunes store —
which surprisingly caused the app to crash the first time I used
it. I can let that slide, as that’s standard experience in other
apps like iBooks where you need to tap to switch between the
library and store. Where things get really wonky is in the
skeuomorphic design of the audio player itself. Whilst playing an
episode, you get a custom playback controller, so no standard iOS
widgets there (that’s been an increasingly worrying trend), as
well as an old reel-to-reel tape deck that displays in the
background. The effect of the tape deck is subtle, and admittedly
very well designed, but it seems a bit off putting to me.
Maybe I’m getting loopy as I get older, but I like the tape deck animation. If you don’t like it, swipe down and you get album art for the currently-playing show.
Where I think Podcasts falls short (and Knight touches on this as well) is in providing for a single iCloud-backed set of podcast subscriptions. If I subscribe to a podcast in iTunes on my Mac, it should show up as a subscription on Podcasts on my iPhone. And, yes, there should be per-device subscription options — I might want to keep an archive of old shows on my Mac with its big-ass hard disk, but only the most recent new episode on my iPhone and iPad. But I shouldn’t have to sync my devices with iTunes on my Mac just to sync podcast subscriptions. Podcasts seems like a perfect example of something where iCloud should be my digital hub — just like how iTunes Match works for music.
Hard to Believe Gizmodo Would Botch a Story Like This ★
Odd story on Gizmodo last night, by Molly Oswaks:
T-mobile customers may have the displeasing distinction of being
the only mobile subscribers not to get their paws on the
much-hyped and forthcoming iPhone 5. Bummer.
“We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” is what the
carrier’s marketing chief, Cole Brodan, is reported to have
announced in a recent employee “town hall” meeting.
Follow that link to the purported source, though, and it comes up as an empty web page. I think, though, it was the mobile URL for this story, published by the same reporter (Cromwell Schubarth) for the same publication (The Puget Sound Business Journal). The problem for Gizmodo: the dateline for that story was September 2011.
The whole thing goes back to this report by David Beren for TmoNews regarding the T-Mobile “town hall” meeting — again, from last September.
Oswaks ends her piece thus:
T-mobile customers, now seems like a good time to check out the
terms and end date of your current contract. Eh?
It’s also a good time for Gizmodo to check the dates on the stories they link to.
Update: Brad Reed, “News Editor” at BGR, today published a piece based on the same year-old news, about 10 hours after Gizmodo’s. That BGR URL is a 404 now, but our good friends at Google have it cached. Oddly, Reed didn’t even mention Gizmodo, but instead linked to the same mobile URL for the same year-old story from The Puget Sound Business Journal. What a coincidence!
Update 2: Now the Gizmodo story has gone down the 404 memory hole as well. Google has it cached, though.
From the DF Archive: ‘Is That a Podcast in Your Pocket?’ ★
Yours truly, back in 2005, on Apple’s initial foray into supporting podcasting in iTunes and on iPods:
The other bit of good fortune is the name: podcasting. Good
fortune for Apple, at least. Clearly the “pod” in “podcasting” is
about the iPod. Apple couldn’t have come up with a better name for
this phenomenon if they’d gotten to choose it themselves. If the
whole “audio enclosures via RSS” scene were still known as
“audioblogging”, as it was when Maciej Ceglowski recorded his
seminal “Audioblogging Manifesto”, I seriously wonder whether
Apple would have done this now.
It’s been a long seven years. At the time, Apple’s introduction of podcasting support in iTunes effectively took the market from Ev Williams’s startup Odeo. Odeo (wisely) abandoned their original idea, and instead focused its efforts on a social messaging network instead: Twitter.
Would Twitter exist today if Apple hadn’t added podcast support to iTunes in 2005?
Confrontation With TSA Agent Leaves Grandfather’s Ashes on Floor ★
Yet another TSA disgrace:
A man’s attempt to bring the ashes of his grandfather home to
Indianapolis ended with an angry scene in a Florida airport, with
the ashes spilled on the terminal floor. […]
“She didn’t apologize. She started laughing. I was on my
hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn’t pick up
all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line
Apple Should Eat Some Sandbox Dog Food ★
Maybe Apple could make the same case for Mac OS X’s built-in apps:
Address Book, iCal, and Mail don’t need to be sandboxed because
they are part of the operating system. But that argument doesn’t
work for Keynote or iMovie. Those apps should play by the same
rules that all productivity and video software in the store does.
If Apple were to sandbox a few of these it would go a long way
toward convincing developers to do the same. And it would also
shake out bugs and missing APIs in the whole sandbox environment.
It’s not-eating-their-own-dogfood hypocrisy, pure and simple. Apple has a bunch of Mac apps in the App Store, and none of them, to my knowledge, are sandboxed. This includes new versions of Aperture and iPhoto that were released this month, after the June 1 sandboxing deadline.
As Manton points out in a separate piece, the new rules are forcing some apps out of the Mac App Store.
Andy Ihnatko on iCloud and the Mac App Store Transition ★
Great piece from Andy Ihnatko:
An app does syncing through MobileMe. Now, it needs to do it
through iCloud. Fine. But Apple won’t let an app use iCloud unless
it’s sold in the App Store. Fine. But Apple won’t approve an app
for the App Store unless it’s sandboxed. And for many developers,
sandboxing means that half of their app’s features will either no
longer work at all, or will need to be dumbed way, way down.
Selling your app there also means being cut off from any kind of
simple and direct line of communication with your users.
Mac developers are getting pinched: they can only hook up to iCloud if they’re in the Mac App Store, but now they can only be in the Mac App Store if they comply with the new sandboxing rules, which rules severely curtail features and capabilities the apps previously relied upon. iOS developers don’t face either problem: all iOS apps go through the App Store so they all have access to iCloud, and the sandboxing rules have been in place on iOS all along. As Ihnatko writes:
Products that were working just fine are now broken. Time, money,
and resources that developers could be investing in making a
great product even better must instead be spent just to keep their
Yojimbo iCloud Transition Update ★
Rich Siegel, Bare Bones Software, on the dilemma(s) faced by Mac developers with apps that use the soon-to-be-closed MobileMe for syncing data:
As one of the very first developers to adopt MobileMe for
synchronization, we’re accustomed to working closely with Apple to
address the complexities involved. iCloud represents a radical
change in how data synchronization operates; it’s unfortunately
not just a switch that developers can throw.
I switched to Dropbox syncing with Yojimbo last year, when I upgraded my MobileMe account to iCloud. It works, but it requires you to manually quit Yojimbo from Mac A before launching it on Mac B. (Yojimbo is smart enough to warn you if you try launching it on Mac B while it’s still running on Mac A, which happens all the time with me because I’ve always got Yojimbo running, at which point I need to pop over to Screens and remotely log into my other Mac just to quit Yojimbo.)
Long-term, the switch to iCloud should make for a better-than-ever syncing solution — not just for Yojimbo, but for Mac apps in general. Short-term, however, this is confusing for users and an enormous headache for developers, especially those with apps that predate the Mac App Store.
Claim Chowder: ‘Apple iTV OS Demo Scheduled for WWDC’ ★
Jonathan Geller, writing at BGR back on May 30:
BGR has learned from a trusted source that Apple is planning to
demonstrate a brand new version of the Apple TV operating system
next week at WWDC. This new OS is said to be much more
feature-complete than the current OS that runs on the Apple TV,
and is apparently the one that Apple’s upcoming HDTV will run.
So much for that trusted source. (Worth noting: I took a guess that Apple might announce something like this at WWDC, but Geller wasn’t guessing. And from what I gathered asking around during WWDC, there was never anything Apple TV-related slated for announcement at WWDC. Something big is going on with Apple TV in Cupertino, but it’s still being cooked.)
New iOS App From Apple: Podcasts ★
Blockbuster new iOS app from Apple through the App Store. At a glance it seems to be very well done in every regard — good for playback (including syncing your location in an episode between devices), good for discovery, good for automatically downloading new episodes.
This, we now know, is why iOS 6 doesn’t have podcast playback in the
Music iTunes Store app. Word on the street at WWDC was that this was slated to get featured in the keynote, but got bumped because there was so much other stuff to announce.
‘Johnny Carson: King of Late Night’ ★
Now available on iTunes: American Masters’s documentary on Johnny Carson. Loved it.
(Frustrating side note: It’s only available for purchase in standard definition; if you want high-def, you have to rent it. Why?)
Update: Via David Friedman, ends up you can watch it for free in the PBS iPad app, which itself is free of charge — or on the web.
Fragmentation and Segmentation ★
Benedict Evans on Apple’s segmentation-by-device of new features in iOS:
How do you segment without fragmenting? Apple achieved this pretty
easily with the iPod by varying the storage, but that wouldn’t be
meaningful for the iPhone. The cheap one has to run the apps, but
people still have to have a reason to buy the expensive one.
What you can do is vary the Apple supplied features, without
varying the hardware and API platform that your third-party
developers are targeting.
On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels ★
Dana Mattioli, reporting for the WSJ (behind the paywall, alas):
Orbitz Worldwide Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.’s
Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the
online travel agency is starting to show them different, and
sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see.
The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how
tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly
innocuous information — in this case, the fact that customers are
visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac — to start predicting their tastes
and spending habits.
To be clear, this is about defaulting to showing Mac users higher-priced, better-rated hotels first, not about charging Mac users more money for the same hotel rooms.
No use making jokes here — Matt Novak wins. (At least I think that’s a joke.)
Flipboard in Content Deal With New York Times ★
The New York Times said on Monday that it would make its articles
available through Flipboard, a popular app for browsing news and
social media on phones and tablets. It will be the first time that
the newspaper has allowed subscribers to get full access to its
Web content through a third party.
I’ve been thinking about it recently, and it seems to me I’ve been using the New York Times iOS app less frequently since it moved into Newsstand. I’ve pretty much got everything I want on my first iPad home screen; I’d rather have the Times app there than inside the Newsstand folder. For me, Newsstand is a place where apps go to be forgotten.
I might be more likely to read The Times in Flipboard than in the NY Times app not because it’s a better reading experience but simply because I’ll see the Flipboard icon right there on my home screen when I’m looking for something to read.
Microsoft Says They Won’t Build Their Own Phones ★
Paul McDougal, reporting for Information Week:
A Microsoft executive said the company has no plans to manufacture
its own company-branded smartphones, denying reports to the
contrary that emerged after Redmond last week roiled the PC
hardware industry by unveiling its own tablet computer.
Asked in an interview if Microsoft planned to apply that strategy
to the smartphone market, Greg Sullivan, senior marketing manager
for Windows Phone, said, “No, we do not.”
Mary-Jo Foley, interviewing Microsoft’s Roz Ho two years ago:
Ho — the former head of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, who
became the leader of PMX (Premium Mobile Services) in 2007 —
wanted to make sure I knew that Kin isn’t a Microsoft phone.
Neither of the models announced today are going to be
Microsoft-branded. The Kins are Sharp phones, she said, and
Sharp is just one of a number of Microsoft OEM partners on the
“This (Kin) is another Windows Phone,” Ho said.
I asked her whether other OEMs had been considered to produce the
Kin phones and was told “Microsoft talks to a a lot of
partners” (which I am taking as a polite “no”).
Or as Darth put it, “Deja vu all over again.”
Jacqui Cheng on Glassboard 2.0 ★
Glassboard was so great at WWDC this year. At this point I don’t know how I did conferences without it.
How to Use Preview in OS X Lion to Digitally Sign Documents ★
I’m guessing a lot of people don’t know about this feature.
Glenn Fleishman Reviews the New AirPort Express ★
Having both bands available at once in the 2012 AirPort Express (a
feature added in 2009 to the Extreme and Time Capsule models)
allows your network to perform at the highest possible speeds no
matter how distant a device is from the base station while it
remains in range of a signal. That’s a significant improvement,
and makes the Express a much better value, especially compared
with equipment from competing manufacturers, such as Linksys.
Dark Sky ★
Innovative, gorgeous, and highly practical weather app for iPhone and iPad. I was skeptical at first, but after using it for a few weeks, I’m hooked. A few minutes ago I was a couple blocks from home running errands, and Dark Sky told me it was going to rain in “two minutes”. Two minutes later it started raining. $3.99 on the App Store.
Dan Frakes Reviews the New MacBook Airs ★
Comprehensive, to say the least.
Here’s the Thing: David Letterman ★
Speaking of podcasts, David Letterman made a rare appearance as a guest on someone else’s show: Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing”. So great. Must-listen for any Letterman fan.
‘Laggy by Any Standard’ ★
This week on America’s favorite two-star podcast, I’m joined by special guest star Guy English. Topics include various details from last week’s WWDC (pull-to-refresh in iOS 6, Passbook, and anti-aliasing nerdery), Microsoft Surface, and a few hints about Guy’s new company and their upcoming Mac app, Napkin. We even make the case that Microsoft really is the most exciting company in tech right now.
Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Vjay, the new video-mixing app for iPad; and Fantastical, the Mac calendar app you’ll actually enjoy using.
Google Maps Backtracks on October Price Increases ★
I’ve talked to a lot of developers over the past several months —
not one of them can understand why Google made these changes in
the first place. It lead big startups like Foursquare to abandon
Google Maps on the web. Even with the high rates, it can’t be a
huge amount of money for Google relative to their overall
Hacking Paid Upgrades in the App Store ★
Speaking of The Talk Show, David Smith has an interesting bit of follow-up related to last week’s show:
During last week’s Talk Show John and Cabel discussed the state of
paid upgrades in the App Store. Around an hour into the show they
hit on something that I hadn’t considered before.
Can you still support the old, replaced version of an app if you
remove it from sale?
Short answer: yes.
Acer Executive on Microsoft Surface: ‘I Don’t Think It Will Be Successful’ ★
Via Michael Swaine, with whom I agree:
The first sign that Microsoft’s vaporware tablet might be successful: Acer saying it won’t.
You Can’t Create Content on the iPad ★
The entire draft manuscript of the Enough book was written using
PlainText for iPad and iPhone by Hog Bay Software. Most of
this work happened on the iPad but two initial essay drafts
occurred on the iPhone as it was what I had available at the time.
Another guy who didn’t get the memo that the iPad is only for consumption.
Darth on the Non-Upgradability of Existing Windows Phone 7 Devices ★
I remember it like yesterday as well.
Larry Ellison Buys 141-Square-Mile Hawaiian Island ★
That’s a man who knows what to do with a fortune.
Windows Phone 8’s Improved Start Screen ★
Looks like a nice improvement, but I’m disappointed that Microsoft is sticking with the hardware Back button paradigm. (No upgrades for existing Windows Phone 7 devices, but there will be a Windows Phone “7.8” update that adds some of the UI features from 8.)
Reigniting the ‘iPad Is for Consumption Not Creation’ Flames ★
The iPad, for all its glory, suffers from one very distinct flaw:
It’s very difficult to use for creation. The keyboard on the
screen, although pretty to look at, is abysmal for typing anything
over 140 characters. There isn’t a built-in pen for note-taking,
either. Of course all of this is intentional by Apple. Although
there are hundreds of third party products available, Apple
doesn’t seem to want the iPad to be a creator, but more of a
Bilton is smarter than this. I really thought we’d retired the whole “iPad is only for consumption” thing.
The idea that a dedicated hardware keyboard or a stylus is necessary for creation is ludicrous. Me, personally? Most of my creation is writing, and I type better on a hardware keyboard. That’s why my go-to mobile work machine is a MacBook Air, not an iPad. But I’ve seen people who type faster on an iPad than I type on a hardware keyboard. Watch a teenager type on an iPad.
Arguing that the iPad is only for consumption today is like arguing that the Macintosh was a toy back in the ’80s.
Microsoft Anchor Sinks Ford in J.D. Power Quality Survey ★
Cheryl Jensen, writing for the NYT Wheels weblog:
The J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study released on
Wednesday shows that automakers continue to make gains in vehicle
quality, but the black art of telematics design poses a growing
liability, especially for Ford.
Problems with its MyFord and MyLincoln Touch infotainment systems
continued to bedevil the company, with other automakers hurt to a
lesser degree. Ford dropped from fifth place in 2010 to 23rd in
2011, largely on complaints from owners who found the telematics
to be unintuitive and complex. This year, Ford fell to 27th.
The name “Microsoft” appears nowhere in Jensen’s article, but should.
Surface vs. iPad Introduction Events ★
Mat Honan Says a Keyboard Is the Only Way to Beat Apple ★
Couple of interesting points in Mat Honan’s piece for Gizmodo:
There was a security guard at the Microsoft event who pointed at
my Macbook Air and asked me “is is true that once you go Mac you
never go back?” Like most every other journalist at the Surface
launch, I was on a MacBook Air.
The idea that a majority of journalists at a Microsoft press event would be using MacBooks would have been laughable just a few years ago. Surface is more than a response to the iPad — it’s a response to the MacBook Air too. Hence the dual ARM/Intel models.
At the Surface release, I saw an impressive demo, but didn’t get a
good hands-on. My guess is that my total in-my-mitts time with the
various tablets was somewhere between one-to-two minutes (which,
in fairness to Microsoft was more than I got with the first iPhone
or iPad when announced) and got no time at all using the keyboard
— its killer feature.
Honan may not have gotten hands-on time with the iPhone or iPad at their debuts, but some did. There was no hands-on area after the iPhone introduction at Macworld Expo in January 2007. A very small handful of journalists (not including yours truly) got one-on-one briefings where they got to play with a prototype. See, for example, David Pogue’s report, where he says he “basically played with the iPhone the entire hour”. Very few people got time with the iPhone at its introduction, but nobody got an hour with the Surface this week.
And, with the original iPad, there’s simply no comparison. There was a hands-on area where all invited journalists were allowed to play with and examine the iPad — and its keyboard dock — for around an hour. I had 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with one.
The Surfaces that we got to examine that were turned on didn’t
have SmartCovers attached, and the Surfaces with SmartCovers
weren’t booted up. Microsoft was covering something, alright.
Surface may be good, may be bad, may be mediocre. Same goes for its intriguing keyboard covers. But at this point there’s simply no use passing judgment. We just don’t know. It isn’t ready yet.
Video of Microsoft’s Monday Surface Event ★
Worth watching if you have any interest in Surface — not so much because there’s any specific information that hasn’t been reported by those who attended the event, but because the event itself is telling. Watch and judge for yourself.
A Week With iOS 6 ★
Some people have been weighing in with disappointment about what
they perceive as minor updates in iOS 6, but it addresses some
very common pain points for customers. This is a refinement
release, which as far as I can tell is a big part of Apple’s
strategy for development. Somewhat a reflection of Intel’s
“tick-tock” strategy, Apple makes a new release with big bets and
new features, following it up with a release more notable for its
tweaks and subtle refinements. We’ve seen Apple display this
maneuver before: Leopard and Lion made bold steps forward for OS X
and gave way to more attenuated updates in Snow Leopard and
Mountain Lion. iPhone 3G and 4 were radical redesigns, while
iPhone 3GS and 4S simply brought those same designs a new level of
polish and elegance.
Hands-on With Microsoft Surface for Windows RT, Touch Cover, and Type Cover – Where by ‘Hands-On’ Engadget Means ‘Hands-Off’ ★
Dana Wollman, writing for Engadget:
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a working demo of the
keyboards. As in, we weren’t permitted to type sample sentences
and feel what it’s like to hammer out characters on a flat
keyboard, or on keys that have just 1.5mm of travel. It’s a shame,
because what makes both keyboards special is that they have
built-in accelerometers that allow the keyboard to tell which key
you’re hitting, how fast and how forcefully. An intriguing idea if
ever there was one, but difficult to weigh in on if all you’re
allowed to do is peck at a lifeless demo model.
Those keyboards are the most interesting and innovative thing about the Surface. And Microsoft wouldn’t let anyone use them, even for a moment, at yesterday’s event.
Frog’s ‘Feel UX’ UI for Android ★
Looks good, and conceptually it’s a much better home screen design than Android’s default. I like the idea of three discrete columns: apps, widgets, shortcuts. But, ultimately, what difference could it make? A home screen and a UI theme are only skin deep. How is this any more than the proverbial lipstick on a pig?
Shooting ‘2001’ ★
Fantastic behind-the-scenes photos from the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Via who else?)
WWDC 2012 Session Videos ★
Update: For context, just three years ago it took five weeks after the close of WWDC for the session videos to appear. Now Apple has it down to four days.
Harry McCracken’s First 23 Questions About Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ Windows 8 Tablet ★
Harry McCracken has a good overview of how much we don’t know about Surface — beyond the obvious questions about pricing and availability:
Surface is going to require some explanation, and it’s probably
going to be more impressive if you see it in person. Microsoft’s
own chain of Apple Store-like retail establishments will be the
only place you’ll be able to try it out; all of a sudden, the
notion of Microsoft ramping up the quantity of stores to
Apple-like numbers doesn’t sound quite so whacko.
But they don’t have Apple-like numbers of locations. They’ve only got 25 locations, and a bunch of those are “Coming Soon” (and who knows whether those are sooner soons than the “Coming Soon” for the Surface tablets themselves). Limiting them to 20-some retail locations is just bizarre.
Bloomberg: ‘LG to Sideline Tablet Development to Focus on Smaller Devices’ ★
Jun Yang, reporting for Bloomberg:
LG Electronics Inc., the world’s No. 4 mobile-phone maker, will
sideline tablet computer development to focus more on smaller
devices rather than compete head-on with Apple Inc.’s iPad. “We’ve
decided to put all new tablet development on the back burner for
the time being in order to focus on smartphones,” Ken Hong, a
spokesman for Seoul-based LG, said in an e-mailed response to
LG had tablets on the front burner?
Win a MacBook Pro From Media Temple ★
Last week’s live-audience episode of The Talk Show — including the open bar — was generously sponsored by my friends at Media Temple, and they’re offering a great deal:
To celebrate our partnership with Mule Radio, “The Talk Show’s”
new home, Russ is offering you a 25% discount on hosting services
and a chance to win a brand new MacBook Pro with retina display!
Play to Win: All you have to do is enter the code “gruber” in the
special offer field to receive your discount and you’ll be entered
to win one of the coolest laptops on the market. Winners will be
chosen on June 27!
Even better: today they updated the contest to make it two retina display 15-inch MacBook Pros they’re giving away. Cool prizes and a great discount offer.
Slinky Levitation ★
I get all my best physics-related links from Kottke.
Goliath Wants David’s Market ★
Enterprise employees can be inspiring, but that depends on said
enterprise that they work for. A place that fosters creativity,
thinking outside the box, and new ideas leads to happy workers who
are open to change if it means making their day to day routine
more enjoyable. Let’s just say that having 30,000+ workers doesn’t
make for an accommodating work environment for new ideas and
embracing change. Integrating iOS and thinking of mobile
development in parallel with desktop software development for this
many users isn’t an easy or quick task and for that reason the
Surface may succeed very well in the enterprise. It’s more of the
same. Buried underneath that beautiful Metro interface is Windows.
Pure Windows able to run that software developed in 1992, not
needing Citrix remote desktop apps, and not needing 100’s of new
apps bought to open Office documents that don’t format or display
properly on iOS.
Makes a lot of sense. He’s arguing that Surface is about cutting off the iPad’s still-small but quickly-growing slice of the enterprise market, not a full-on assault of the iPad in the consumer market.
Not Getting the iPad ★
Sam Grobart, jumping through hoops to justify his sensational “Microsoft’s new Surface tablet computer is not an iPad competitor” lead sentence:
There’s a significant population out there, people who look at an
iPad and say, “I like it, but can I get one to replace my laptop?
Even for just some of the time?” And the honest answer has always
been, “No.” The iPad has plenty of accessories, but it’s not a
I love how the link is to another piece by — wait for it — Grobart himself, explaining why he needs something more than an iPad. The best refutation: today’s new iPad TV commercial from Apple.
Idea of the Day: Shutdown Requires PIN ★
Fantastic idea by Cabel Sasser:
When my phone was stolen in SF last year, they immediately
powered it down to stop Find My iPhone. Settings idea: “Shutdown
I worry that iPhone thieves have caught on to Find My iPhone and now know to shut them down as soon as they have a stolen iPhone in hand. Cabel’s idea might keep them on the grid longer.
The Verge Live-Blog Coverage of Microsoft’s New Surface Tablet ★
Built-in “kickstand”, and the magnetically-attached cover cleverly doubles as a keyboard and trackpad. But confusingly, they’re doing versions both with ARM and Intel CPUs. The ARM one is thinner and lighter, of course. And no word on pricing or availability.
Update: Michael Gartenberg tweets:
This is a total flip of MSFTs business model of software licensing.
Indeed; they’re competing directly against Windows licensees.
WWDC Youth Contingent ★
Jessica Vascellaro, reporting for the WSJ:
Paul Dunahoo went on a business trip to San Francisco last
week, where he attended technical sessions at Apple Inc.’s
developer conference, networked with other programmers
and received feedback from Apple engineers on his six
Then, Mr. Dunahoo, chief executive of Bread and Butter Software
LLC, returned to Connecticut to get ready for the eighth grade.
(Via Peter Cohen.)
Why Apple Is Going ‘Containment’ Not ‘Thermonuclear’ Against Google in iOS 6 ★
When Siri launched on the iPhone 4S, it’s one of the few times I
know of — perhaps the only time — where Apple shipped a “beta”
product to consumers (as it still remains today). But it was a
smart move, because it allowed Apple to begin containing Google in
search on Apple’s own devices. Siri would decide where a search
should go, and it didn’t always go to Google (side note: Google’s
deal with Apple clearly didn’t anticipate or require Google be the
default for voice search, only for Safari search).
That containment wasn’t something average consumers widely
understood, I’d say. To them, Siri was just some cool new
tool that let you ask your iPhone for stuff. It was a subtle
way to dump Google without consumers ever realizing that
Apple dumped Google.
Smart analysis. My favorite little “containment” detail in iOS 6: the web search field in Mobile Safari now reads “Search”, not “Google” (or “Bing” or “Yahoo”).
‘It’s Called Progress, Folks’ ★
Garrett Murray deconstructs iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens’s diatribe condemning the integrated design of the new MacBook Pro:
The MacBook Air was not a market experiment. The MacBook Air was a
revolution. Every single other company has been trying to
replicate its success. Do you think Dell and Sony and Asus and
Lenovo are all coincidentally performing the same “market
experiment”? Apple designed and built the world’s thinnest,
lightest computer and then year-after-year they made it better.
The MacBook Air is the future–everyone knows it. People don’t want
huge, heavy “robust and rugged” laptops. They want ultra-thin,
ultra-light, insanely fast computers that are affordable. Apple
Progress, Visualized ★
Apt comparison by Ole Begemann.
Busting the iOS 6 Transit Map Myths ★
There’s a ridiculous amount of misinformation spreading online
about the new maps in iOS 6, compounded by incorrect press
reports, vague statements by Apple, and the developer NDAs. I’m
even guilty of spreading it myself, based on reports I’d seen on
Using information provided to me by an anonymous Apple developer,
I’ve pieced together the facts.
Public Transit in iOS 6 ★
Even worse, nobody knows the extent of the secret deals that were
made to keep Google out of certain markets. Those same deals would
probably also make it impossible for Apple to get at this data. In
a way Apple has to be thankful to Google for testing the waters
and uncovering how difficult it is to get worldwide coverage on a
voluntary (and free) basis.
Because of this Apple does the only smart thing: let the companies
do it themselves.
But users don’t care about the problems Apple would face to handle worldwide public transit information. They just want convenience. iOS 6 requiring third-party apps for public transit information seems like a step backwards, convenience-wise.
Upcoming Changes to the Netflix API Program ★
If I’m reading this right, this is a huge shit sandwich, both for developers who’ve built software that reads data from Netflix and for Netflix users who ever hope to export their account data.
The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2012 ★
This week’s episode of The Talk Show, recorded yesterday in front of a live audience during WWDC 2012 in San Francisco. My special guest: Cabel Sasser, co-founder of Panic. We discuss all the news from Apple’s WWDC keynote — the retina display MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion, and iOS 6 — and the changing nature of indie app development in the App Store world.
My thanks to everyone who attended, and to Media Temple for sponsoring the event and the episode. Media Temple has a terrific offer for The Talk Show listeners: enter the code “gruber” and you’ll save 25 percent on any hosting service, and you’ll be entered in a contest to win a new retina display MacBook Pro.
You’ve probably expanded Tweets before to play videos from
YouTube or see photos from Instagram. Now, a diverse and growing
group of new partners like the The Wall Street Journal, Breaking
News, and TIME also deliver rich content inside Tweets containing
a link to those websites.
Twitter’s monetization strategy is unfolding.
‘CIOS Beware: New Macbook Pro Will Be a Bandwidth Hog’ ★
The “correction” is almost as funny as the original premise. Easily the most jackasstic thing I’ve read this week.
iOS 6 Shutdown Spinner Is Finally Retina Resolution ★
Well the long nightmare is finally over. We can report that the
shutdown spinner is now Retina-ready in iOS 6.
Best “finally” of the week.
Filed Under ‘Attention to Detail’ ★
Gizmodo reader “Zach”, noting a detail in the iOS 6 beta:
I noticed today that the reflection on the metallic sliders in the
iPod app actually change as you tilt the phone from side to side.
No Multitouch on Wii U Controller ★
The Wii U GamePad is not multi-touch. Not a problem, Fils-Aime
said, holding a GamePad in his hands. “When we went through the
building of this and, given some of the functionality, we thought
that single-touch was a more appropriate option, especially when
you’ve got other button configurations.”
I love Nintendo, but I’m dubious about this. I could see a non-multitouch controller a few years ago, but today? This product is debuting in a world where everyone is familiar with iPhones and iPads.
2012 Apple Design Award Winners ★
Good choices, I say. But too game-centric.
Which iOS 6 Features Work on Which Devices ★
Weird that the iPhone 3GS doesn’t get features like VIP List, Offline Reading List, or Shared Photo Stream. None of them seem the least bit performance constrained.
Ping’s Future ★
John Paczkowski says Ping is dead:
Sources close to the company say that Ping, which still exists
today in iTunes 10.6.3, will be gone with the software’s next
major release, likely scheduled for this fall. And at that point
Apple’s social networking offerings will shift to Twitter and
new partner Facebook entirely.
I was under the impression that Ping was in more of a “we don’t know what we’re going to do about it” state, not a “yeah, we’re killing it” state. For example, Ping is still there in the iTunes app in the iOS 6 beta — but, it doesn’t work.
I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Ping goes away after Mountain Lion and iOS 6 both ship, and I know Paczkowski has good sources, but I don’t think Apple has made that decision yet.
iOS 6 Features You Might Have Missed ★
Nice rundown by Lex Friedman. So many details.
VR-Zone: Microsoft Is Charging Tablet OEMs $85 for Windows RT ★
Theo Valich, VR-Zone:
During our meetings with multiple vendors on the Computex Taipei,
we were talking about pricing options for taking the Windows RT
route instead of (free) Android from Google. While it was rumored
that Microsoft decided to change their ways and offer a price of
about 35 dollars – the reality is that Windows RT will cost
staggering USD$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly
I find this hard to believe. How could these tablets be price competitive with the iPad if it costs $85 for Windows alone?
The Mac’s Mid-Life Crisis ★
So the Mac line, like myself, is in this awkward in-between stage.
I love my Air, but I want this new Pro. Meanwhile, I need to
replace my iMac, and based on the rumors, I thought I was going to
be able to do that today. But, well, nope.
Maybe I ditch my iMac in favor of this new MacBook Pro. I like the
idea, but I will miss the larger monitor. I could buy a Cinema
Display but — incredibly — it’s actually lower resolution than
this new Pro screen. What would be the point of that? (And you
know that upgrade is coming down the line as well.)
Couldn’t agree more. I’m spoiled by the extreme portability of an 11-inch Air, but this new MacBook Pro is clearly the nicest Mac ever made. It’s a hard decision.
Jason Snell: Hands on With the Retina MacBook Pro ★
Matches my day one thoughts exactly.
Mac Pro: Not Dead Yet ★
Tim Cook, in an email to a customer complaining about yesterday’s very minor Mac Pro speed bump:
Thanks for your email. Our Pro customers like you are really
important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about
a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working
on something really great for later next year. We also updated the
current model today.
From the Archive: Daring Fireball Live at Macworld Expo 2007 ★
Five years ago, I did a live podcast on the show floor at Macworld Expo 2007, just a few hours after Steve Jobs had unveiled the original iPhone. My guest was Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser. We talked about the iPhone’s user interface, HiDPI Macs, and Panic’s apps.
Later today, Cabel will be my guest on a live episode of The Talk Show here in San Francisco, after the second day of WWDC. Our topics, funnily enough, will likely be the same.
Businessweek Profiles Phil Schiller ★
Peter Burrows and Adam Satariano:
Since Jobs’s death in October, perhaps no Apple executive other
than CEO Tim Cook is under more pressure to fill the void. Apple
declined to make Schiller available for this story, which is based
on interviews with more than a dozen former Apple managers,
business partners, and industry analysts, most of whom asked to
remain anonymous to avoid harming their relationships with the
company. Besides helping software chief Scott Forstall and
hardware designer Jonathan Ive define new products, Schiller is
the steward of Apple’s relationship with app developers. He has
taken over all of Apple’s marketing, including a global
advertising budget that hit $933 million last year. And he will
increasingly be Apple’s public face, a role that should be evident
at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference starting
on June 11.
Good piece. It would be very hard to overstate Schiller’s role at Apple. “Marketing” at Apple doesn’t mean what “marketing” means at most companies. If you took the “Marketing” out of Schiller’s title and changed it to “Senior Vice President of Product”, people would have a better sense of his role.
Speaking of cool brand-new iPhone apps with very short names, Pris is a clever take on a camera app by developer Rob Rhyne. Most interesting to me is the way it handles aspect ratios, both for stills and video clips:
Turn Pris on its side and indulge in panoramas shot in cinematic
widescreen. It’s perfect for that short film you’re always
thinking about. When held upright, Pris shoots photos ready for
Instagram and its square video mode evokes memories of the golden
age of film.
$1.99. Follow my advice today and you’ll be out a grand total of three bucks and you’ll have two great new apps.
(Readers with good memories may recall Rhyne’s name from Briefs, his ingenious but ultimately ill-fated interactive prototype tool for the iPhone.)
Ita is a brand-new list-making app for iPhone and iPad from Nice Mohawk, and co-sponsor of this week’s The Talk Show. The app is super-simple, looks great (hello, Futura), and syncs through iCloud. And right now it’s just 99 cents. A buck! Just buy it, seriously.
‘A Decent Thing That Someone Would Like’ ★
This week on America’s favorite two-star podcast, I’m joined by special guest star MG Siegler. Topics include the way that Android, as an ecosystem, is spiraling out of Google’s control; Facebook’s purportedly “disastrous” IPO that actually worked out pretty well for Facebook itself; and a rundown of the various rumors heading into next week’s WWDC.
And speaking of next week, a fun announcement: the first-ever live audience episode of The Talk Show will be recorded in sunny and warm San Francisco on the second day of WWDC, Tuesday June 12. Tickets are free and open to anyone 21 or older, but seating is limited. Listen to this week’s show for event details and how to get tickets — first-come, first-served.
This week’s The Talk Show was brought to you by two great sponsors:
xip.io: Wildcard DNS for Everyone ★
One of those “can’t believe no one did this before” ideas. Great service for web developers from 37signals. More info here.
Video Purportedly Shows Next-Generation iPhone Back Cover ★
Jibes with 9to5 Mac’s photos last month, and looks too intricate to be a hoax. But what do I know — I fell for that Shell thing yesterday.
‘The Time and Location of This Test Is Just Coincidental’ ★
T-Mobile to begin deploying iPhone-compatible 4G service inside Moscone West — next week.
For the most part, all the news sources reporting on the revised
bird have focused on its visual update, which I will get to soon,
but the real story here is that Twitter has dropped its name from
the logo. If you look at the opening image of this post, the
change is quite drastic. And ballsy. Twitter has achieved in less
than six years what Nike, Apple, and Target took decades to do: To
be recognizable without a name, just an icon.
Too Metaphorically Perfect to Be True ★
That Shell video with the scale model oil rig spewing liquor all over the widow? It’s a hoax, alas. A damn good one, but a fake.
‘Dear Eric Schmidt, It’s Been 6 Months’ ★
MG Siegler, celebrating Android-First Day:
But the most interesting reason again ties into something Schmidt
said back in December: “With the ICS release our core objective as
a company is to get all of the hardware vendors onto that
I mean, he really said that. And it’s unbelievable because it’s
perhaps the most epic fail in the history of epic fails. Google’s
“core objective as a company” was to get hardware vendors onto Ice
Cream Sandwich (aka Android 4.0), and as of June 1 — seven months
after the launch of the OS — 7.1 percent of Android phones are
actually on it. Seven. Point. One. Percent.
VGA Ports, Projectors, and Progress ★
Just about every response I got to last night’s bit on new PC laptops with VGA ports was along the same lines: of course they have VGA ports, because conference and classroom projectors so often require it.
By that logic, though, PCs would all still have PS/2 ports and floppy drives. Someone has to move away from VGA first — either the PC makers or the projector makers. And as Rob Beschizza points out at Boing Boing, at this point, the size of the VGA port is keeping laptops from getting thinner.
If PC makers wait until there are no VGA projectors in use before they stop putting VGA ports on laptops, they’ve waited too long. Just copy Apple: get rid of the antiquated port, make thinner computers, and sell $20 adaptors for those who need them.
Metaphorically Perfect Shell PR Fiasco ★
Like something from an SNL skit, not real life. (Via Cabel Sasser.)
Update: Too good to be true: it’s a hoax.
Virgin Mobile Becomes Second U.S. Carrier to Offer Pre-Paid iPhone ★
Plans start at just $30 per month, but you have to pay full price for the iPhone:
The iPhone 4S (16 GB) will cost $649 and iPhone 4 (8 GB) will sell for $549.
It’s a shame they don’t offer the larger-capacity 32 and 64 GB models.
Skating to Where the Puck Was in 1987 ★
Three brand new PC laptops. The Dell Inspiron R, the Sony Vaio T13112FXS (that name just rolls right off your tongue, no?), and the Toshiba Portege Z935.
All three sport built-in VGA ports.
Happy Android-First Day ★
Six months ago:
“Android is ahead of the iPhone now,” Schmidt declared to an
audience of techies and aspiring entrepreneurs at the LeWeb
conference here. […]
One Android-toting audience member said he was frustrated to see
iOS apps beating Android versions to market. But in part because
of Ice Cream Sandwich, “my prediction is that six months from now
you’ll say the opposite,” Schmidt said.
We’ve got a couple of weeks left before we break out the claim chowder on this one, from the same day:
Onstage at LeWeb in Paris this afternoon, Google’s Executive
Chairman told the audience that, “By the summer of 2012, the
majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV
Script Debugger 5.0 ★
Major update to one of my favorite apps of all time. If you dick around with AppleScript, you should have Script Debugger. And if AppleScript is a serious part of your work, you’re simply nuts if you don’t have it.
Bloomberg: Microsoft and HTC Are on the Outs ★
Ian King, Tim Culpan and Dina Bass, reporting for Bloomberg:
Microsoft locked out HTC from the development of products using
the newest version of its operating system on concern that HTC
doesn’t sell enough devices or have ample experience making
tablets, said the people, who asked not to be named because
negotiations between HTC and other companies are private.
Think about how fast things change in this industry: just three years ago, HTC was responsible for 80 percent of Windows Mobile device sales.
CNet’s Stupid ‘Hands On’ ★
I don’t want to spoil it, just read it.
Airfoil Speakers Touch Back in the App Store ★
First, the good news: Airfoil Speakers Touch is once again
available in the iOS App Store. You can download it directly on
your device or click here to learn more about sending audio from
your Mac or PC to your iOS device.
Unfortunately, Airfoil Speakers Touch can no longer receive audio
directly from other iOS devices or iTunes. Read on for more
information about this troubling change, as well as the reasons
Pizza or Not ★
My type of DF readers.
‘Was He Inebriated?’ ★
Charlie Sorrel, back in the Zune’s 2008 heyday:
When CNBC reporter Jim Goldman interviewed Jobs after Tuesday’s
Macworld keynote, he passed on a comment from Robbie Bach,
entertainment chief at Microsoft, that the Zune 2 is a “worthy
alternative to Apple’s iPod”.
Jobs’s reply? “Was he inebriated? Do you even know anyone who owns
(Thanks to Jim Maiella for the reminder.)
Missing the Point ★
Robert Atkins says John Moltz and I are missing the point of the EFF’s “crystal prison” argument and their proposed “bill of rights for mobile computer owners”:
It’s a pity Richard Stallman is such a boor because he’s actually
right about some things: if we aren’t vigilant, the general public
will have its legal right to build and run arbitrary software on
hardware they own eroded to the point where it’s impossible to do
I believe this is the thinking behind the EFF’s proposed “bill of
rights” for mobile computer users: nobody wants or needs to log in
to the root prompt on their iPad on a daily basis but it’s
incredibly important it remains possible and legal to do so.
I suppose the “slippery slope” argument is the best light in which to see the EFF’s stance — that if some computers implement such restrictions, someday they all might, so therefore none should. I don’t buy it, though. Look at this iOS Security report (PDF) Apple published last month — a huge chunk of the security features Apple is touting are in direct opposition to the EFF’s “bill of rights”. Trade-offs.
Texts From Xcode ★
Some WWDC-prelude humor.
R.I.P. Zune ★
Nick Wingfield, writing for Bits:
There was nary a mention of Zune, an existing Microsoft music and
movie service, at the E3 event where Xbox Music was announced. But
afterward, a Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed
that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the
better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including
its online video service.
Why not hold another public funeral, like the one they held for the iPhone in 2010? People need a chance to grieve.
Actual Search Results in Google Search Results, Through the Years ★
Re: last night’s item on the ever-decreasing screen space Google devotes to actual search results, I wondered aloud how today’s Google search results compared to those from five years ago. Here’s a 2005 comparison of various search engines’ results for “search engine”. Google devoted the most space to actual results, by far.
DF reader Mike Pantoliano tweeted with this screenshot, showing Google search results from 2008 for “pizza”, the same search term from yesterday’s item.
And to Google’s credit, there are plenty of search terms for which Google still shows a results page that is overwhelmingly devoted to actual search results.
Google Previews Improved 3D Map Imagery ★
Gee, I wonder why they previewed this now, rather than waiting until it actually shipped? It does look cool, though.
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Trailer ★
Upcoming animated movie from Disney — think Toy Story meets classic ’80s video games. (Via Andy Baio.)
‘Sorry, Cheapskates, but HBO Doesn’t Want Your Money’ ★
Dan Frommer on why you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for HBO to offer access to its shows other than through a traditional cable package. Me, my wishes are humble. I just wish they’d let the HBO Go app work with AirPlay.
How Much Space Google Devotes in Search Results to Actual Search Results ★
Would be interesting to see how this compares to the same search, say, five years ago.
Ben Popper, writing for The Verge:
Airtime is a browser based video chat service, like Chatroulette,
that lets you seamlessly talk with friends and people who share
your interests, but unlike Chatroulette, uses Facebook Connect to
ensure people’s real identities and hopefully keep their pants on.
I love how the screenshot of Airtime in actual use shows two guys whose Facebook Connect real identities are “Anonymous” and “Anonymous”.
Over at BuzzFeed, Matt Buchanan writes the best sentence of the day:
Airtime periodically snaps screenshots of users to make sure the
thing talking isn’t a penis.
WSJ: ‘Apple and Google Expand Battle to Mobile Map Apps’ ★
Jessica Vascellaro and Amir Efrati, reporting for the WSJ:
Apple has fought back, invading Google’s advertising turf by
selling mobile ads. And last year it unveiled its new weapon
against Google’s search business, the voice-activated “virtual
assistant” named Siri that gives people a new way to search for
information from the iPhone.
Some Google executives privately say they think Apple is trying
to wean iPhone users away from using traditional Web search on
“Privately”? There’s nothing private or secretive about it. Just watch one of Apple’s Siri TV ads. And it wouldn’t be a story about Google without something like this:
On Halloween in 2006 — just months before the iPhone was
announced — Apple’s product-marketing head, Phil Schiller, and
other executives met with Google engineers to determine how the
iPhone could use Google’s mapping data to let people see their
locations and get directions. At the meeting, one Google employee
attended wearing a nun costume.
Pre to Postmortem: The Inside Story of the Death of Palm and WebOS ★
Epic must-read reporting by Chris Ziegler for The Verge:
That’s the number of months it took Palm, Inc. to go from the
darling of International CES 2009 to a mere shadow of itself, a
nearly anonymous division inside the HP machine without a hardware
program and without the confidence of its owners. Thirty-one
months is just barely longer than a typical American mobile phone
The following is an account of Palm’s ascent prior to the launch
of the Pre, the subsequent decline, and eventual end, assembled
through interviews with a number of current and former employees.
Steve Jobs on the File System ★
Nice catch by Ole Begemann — Steve Jobs pretty much describing the basic idea for iOS in 2005.
The Mechanics and Meaning of the Dial-Up Modem Sound ★
What you’re hearing is the way 20th century technology tunneled
through a 19th century network; what you’re hearing is how a
network designed to send the noises made by your muscles as they
pushed around air came to transmit anything, or the
almost-anything that can be coded in 0s and 1s.
If you’re of a certain age, the sound of a dial-up modem initiating a connection will forever trigger a Pavlovian response.
Ping: What Went Wrong ★
Chris Breen, writing for Macworld:
While I could let Ping go quietly into the night, Apple provides
us with so few failures that it’s impossible to pass up the
opportunity to give Ping’s corpse a poke or two to determine what
led to its demise. And, fortunately, it doesn’t take a forensic
genius to sleuth that out.
New from H&FJ:
For the longest time, we’ve been reaching for a typeface that
wasn’t there. We knew it was something spare and tranquil, its
letterforms reaching ambitiously outward, and we could hear it
speaking in hushed but captivating tones. We imagined it as
industrious, combining space-age optimism with the confidence and
composure of a master craftsman. We could see the typeface among
the realm of satisfying things, objects designed not merely to be
used but to be enjoyed: a well-balanced knife, a performance
engine; the tool that fits the hand just so.
And… now I have another font crush.
Blind Tennis ★
Speaking of blind people doing cool things.
The Blind Shooting the Blind ★
Stephen van Egmond:
Eventually a common theme became apparent: Apple’s applications —
Calendar, Messages, Mail, iPhoto, even Maps and most surprisingly
Camera — are completely usable by blind people. These
applications aren’t using any kind of secret API sauce. They’re
using the same UIAccessibility framework you and I have access to.
Instapaper for Android ★
Not quite feature-complete compared to the iOS version, but good enough to scratch Instapaper off my “iOS apps I desperately miss while carrying an Android phone around” list. We’re going to have a good time later this week enjoying this morsel of Eric Schmidt claim chowder, but while developers aren’t going Android-first, fewer are going iOS-only.
Ice Cream Sandwich: 7.1 Percent Uptake in 7 Months ★
Google will announce the next version of their OS before 10% of
their users are on the last version. Think about how insane that
is for a second.
Kevin Fox’s WWDC Predictions ★
Pretty good set of predictions overall, but this observation caught my eye:
Presumably once Apple stops using Google Maps tiles for their Maps
app Google will be free to submit their own maps app for iOS and
Apple would be hard-pressed to stop them, given the government
scrutiny they underwent when stalling on the approval of Google
Voice and other Google apps for iOS a few years ago.
Hadn’t thought about that before, but I agree. If Google wants iOS users to be able to use Google Maps after iOS 6 ships, they’re going to need to write their own app.
Update: I disagree with this bit, though:
Mountain Lion is almost done and will probably be required for the
Retina MBPs, so the unveiling will probably be partnered with a
sale date in early July, along with the release of Mountain Lion
for regular consumers.
I don’t think retina display Macs necessarily need wait for Mountain Lion — there’s an awful lot of double-resolution (a.k.a. HiDPI) artwork in 10.7.4, and Apple has been steadily increasing the amount of retina-ready apps since 10.7. I think retina Macs could roll out running 10.7.4 or a 10.7.5 update. Further, I don’t think Mountain Lion is that close to shipping. Mountain Lion as we know it may seem stable and near-shipping, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those To-Be-Announced WWDC sessions are for as-yet-unannounced new stuff in Mountain Lion.
ABI Research on Tablet Shipments ★
Apple’s 11.8 million iPad shipments were spurred by the launch of
a third-generation lineup and price reduction on iPad 2 models,
while Samsung’s 1.1 million shipments returned the vendor to the
number two spot after Amazon’s Kindle Fire shipments fizzled
No idea why they call them “media tablets” rather than just “tablets”. The whole appeal of the iPad is that people are using them for anything and everything.
Anyway, I wouldn’t count Amazon out. The Kindle 2 was a huge improvement over the original Kindle, and I expect the same from this year’s Kindle Fire.
Classy, Asus, Classy ★
Asus’s official Twitter account cracks joke about one of their booth babes’ rear end.
Android Growth Slowing in the U.S.? ★
It’s perhaps too early to suggest that we’re seeing a slowdown
in the US for Android. Perhaps there will be a return to growth
in the fall. The concern has to be that rather than seeing the
net adds growing — as they have for two years with only two
contiguous months of decline — Android net adds have been falling
for four months.
Moltz on Windows 8 ★
John Moltz, writing for Macworld:
Like a number of Apple fans, I think Metro — Microsoft’s tile
interface that originated on Windows Phone 7 and is now the
default in Windows 8 — is quite nice. And you know the primary
reason we think that, right? Because it’s a complete departure
from Windows as we used to know it.
Which is good, right? Because it turns out it really was the
Windows interface we didn’t like. We’re not just irrational
Microsoft haters under the thrall of Cupertino’s Reality
Danny Sullivan on Google and ‘Paid Inclusion’ ★
Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it
distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business
model called “paid inclusion.” Indeed, paid inclusion was one of
the original sins Google listed as part of its “Don’t Be Evil”
creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid
inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and
Steve Jobs, purportedly, back in January 2010: “This ‘don’t be evil’ mantra, it’s bullshit.”
Glenn Fleishman on Do Not Track ★
Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Economist’s Babbage:
But the FTC seems firmly resolved, and privacy advocates are
pushing hard for a tight definition of what “not tracking” means.
Mr Soghoian notes that DNT went from being called ridiculous and
naive to impossible to par for the course in three years. He
believes that even without advertising and tracking networks’ full
acquiescence, the FTC would have the teeth to pursue enforcement.
What Would a Siri API Look Like? ★
If I were to speculate about what Apple’s big WWDC TBA session
is (some have guessed television), I would guess Apple is
going to teach its multitude of developers the basics of natural
language processing and how exactly it plans to let them
integrate with Siri.
RadarScope for Mac and iOS ★
My thanks to RadarScope for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. RadarScope is a terrific premium weather radar display system for Mac and iOS — think of it as a prosumer-level weather app, targeting everyone from meteorologists and public safety officials to weather enthusiasts. It’s professional-grade software at a consumer price.
This week only, the Mac version of RadarScope is available for 33 percent off the regular price. If you’re a weather nerd, check it out.
Grading on a Curve, David Pogue Department ★
Matt Buchanan on David Pogue’s review of the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2:
Pogue, ostensibly to please a vocal, angry contingency of fanboys,
bends over backwards so hard to say nice things about the Galaxy
Player 4.2 that he practically begins to eat himself, so that
every good thing he says about it is immediately negated in the
same thought. The screen is fantastic, except for when you open
Rentzsch: Mac App Store vs. Buying Direct ★
Good piece by Wolf Rentzsch, evaluating both the pros and cons of buying Mac apps from the App Store versus direct from developers. He makes a strong case that the new sandboxing rules that went into effect today tilt things in favor of buying direct. I agree, but I’d say that’s true only for power users. For typical users, I’d argue that the sandboxing rules make the Mac App Store even more compelling (albeit at the expense of severe headaches for developers).
‘Superman Didn’t Even Make His Own Logo’ ★
This week’s episode of The Talk Show, America’s most-starred podcast (because one star is still a star), with special guest star John Moltz, the acclaimed author of A Very Nice Web Site. Topics include Tim Cook’s appearance with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the All Things D Conference in San Something California, Windows 8, the EFF’s description of iOS as a “crystal prison”, and one of the stupidest articles anyone has ever written about Steve Jobs. But we start with a perusal of the reviews of The Talk Show in iTunes.
Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Pixelmator, the beautifully-designed powerful image editing app for the Mac; and Hueless, the new black and white photography app for the iPhone.
iAd Gaining Traction? ★
I certainly hope iAd stays around. After a very bumpy start it has
stabilized into a very solid platform that serves its intended
goal of providing a native mechanism for making money in free
apps. In fact, the performance of iAd has grown so solid over the
past 6 months or so that I recently dropped all other
advertising platforms from Audiobooks (previously I’ve integrated
with MobClix, Admob, and Adsense).
(Via Marco Arment.)
Gartner Report: Apple Turns Over Its Inventory Once Every Five Days ★
So a typical company in manufacturing might do 8 inventory turns.
Samsung does 17. Dell, which practically invented hardcore
electronics supply chain management, does 36. Apple is doing 74!
Tim Cook is doing OK.
Google Holding ‘Next Dimension’ of Maps Event Next Week ★
Five days ahead of WWDC.
Opt-In vs. Opt-Out ★
Sid Stamm and Alex Fowler, writing for the Mozilla Privacy Blog:
Firefox defaults to state 3: we don’t know what the user wants, so
we’re not sending any signals to servers. This causes the presence
of the signal to mean more — the signal being sent should be the
user’s choice, not ours. Therefore, Firefox doesn’t broadcast
anything until our user has told us what to send.
DNT allows for a conversation between the person sitting behind
the keyboard and the site that they want to visit. If DNT is on by
default, it’s not a conversation. For DNT to be effective, it must
actually represent the user’s voice.
That’s a bogus argument. If they really feel this way, then Firefox should present a modal dialog that forces every user to choose a Do Not Track setting before they can do anything else. Nobody likes those sort of dialogs, of course. People launch Firefox because they want to browse the web, not to fiddle with settings. That’s why default preference settings matter so much — everyone knows most users never change the defaults.
If “Do Not Track” defaults to on, most users will have it on; if it defaults to off, most users will have it off. Defaulting to off is no more a representation of “the user’s voice” than defaulting to on is.
The simple truth is that Mozilla is favoring advertisers (read: Google) at the expense of users’ privacy.
Wired: ‘In Ad Network Nightmare, Microsoft Making “Do Not Track” Default for IE 10’ ★
Ryan Singel, reporting for Wired Threat Level:
Consider this scenario: If indeed the net’s major advertisers
obeyed Do Not Track and IE 10 keeps the default, more than a
quarter of the net’s users would be opted out of behavioral ad
tracking by default.
That’d be a far cry from a purely opt-in system that might be used
by a single-digit percentage of opt-in users — those who likely
don’t click on ads in the first place. So that could make the
online advertising industry back out of the process and decide not
to implement DNT — or to write its own rules for how it
So let me get this straight. Advertising networks that track user behavior are OK with “Do Not Track” only so long as a single-digit percentage of users have it turned on? But if a lot of people start using it they’re out? Not being able to track users across the web is a “nightmare” for ad networks?
Years ago I had the idea that if Microsoft really wanted to destroy Google, they should have released a version of IE with a built-in on-by-default ad-blocker that included Google ads in its blacklist. They could have killed Google back when IE had an overwhelming majority browser share. Sure, there would have been a nasty legal fight and Microsoft probably would have lost it, but it would have taken years to litigate and I’ll bet it would have been less expensive to Microsoft than what they’ve flushed down the toilet on Bing over the years.
Today, why not go all-in on user privacy? IE, Safari, Firefox — they should all block these invasive user-tracking cookies. Chrome should too, but of course they won’t. It’s a simple question: Who values user privacy? Safari blocks third-party cookies by default — IE and Firefox should too.
Speaking of Presidential Politics ★
George W. Bush’s official portrait was released yesterday.
Dismal Employment Report for May ★
Shaila Dewan, reporting for the NYT:
The United States economy gained a net 69,000 jobs in May, the
Labor Department said Friday, a dismal showing that reflected
mounting evidence of a global slowdown. The unemployment rate rose
to 8.2 percent from 8.1 in April, largely because more people
began looking for work.
This is a much bigger deal than misspelling “America” in an iPhone app, you guys.