My thanks to Doxie for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their simple, wireless mobile scanner. Doxie is easy, simple, and works with your Mac or iPad. They now have two great models to choose from:
Doxie One: Scan all your paper with no computer required. ($149)
Doxie Go: Scan anywhere with a rechargeable battery, built-in memory, and optional Wi-Fi. ($199)
Both models come with Doxie’s elegant Mac app for organizing documents — use it to create searchable PDFs, send documents to other apps, upload to the cloud. It’s a great gift for the holidays for anyone who wants to go paperless.
The Inside Story of Pong ★
Epic feature by Chris Stokel-Walker for Buzzfeed:
“Anyone could play,” Alcorn says. “You didn’t have to know physics
or space flight or anything. Pong was designed so you could
participate in athletics while maintaining a firm grip on a can of
beer. You could literally pick up a girl, drink a beer, and play a
video game at the same time. It was wonderful.”
Microsoft: 40 Million Windows 8 Licenses Sold in First Month ★
Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft:
As we pass the one month anniversary of the general availability
of Windows 8, we are pleased to announce that to-date Microsoft
has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses. Tami Reller shared this
news with industry and financial analysts, investors and media
today at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference.
Windows 8 is outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades.
That’s a huge number, so it’s not all bad news for Microsoft. But as Paul Thurrott points out, Windows is so successful that it usually sells around 20 million licenses per month:
First, I’m surprised no one else has questioned why
launch-month license sales of Windows 8 weren’t higher than 40
million units. That figure is double the normal sales rate for
Windows — remember, Windows 7 sold about 20 million licenses a
month for three years straight — but, looked at another way,
it’s only double the normal sales rate of Windows. How is it
not more than double?
Use the MiniPlayer With iTunes 11 in Full-Screen Mode ★
The trick is to set iTunes to appear on “All Desktops” (i.e. in all Spaces) using the Dock. The downside though, is that when iTunes’s main window is not in full screen mode, it shows up in all Spaces.
Mac OS X Hints has another good iTunes 11 tip regarding keyboard shortcuts for switching between library sections.
Forstall vs. Fadell ★
Worth keeping in mind regarding Tony Fadell’s “got what he deserved” comments regarding Scott Forstall’s ouster from Apple is that these two guys were directly vying with each other to define the iPhone. From a 2008 piece here at DF:
The story I’ve heard is that at the outset of Apple’s iPhone
initiative, there was a heated debate within Apple as to what OS
should be used [for the iPhone]. Forstall and Serlet pushed for
using OS X. Fadell (and, according to one source, former Apple
executive Steve Sakoman) pushed for using something else.
Obviously, Forstall and Serlet won this debate, and, hyperbolic
though it may sound, it may prove to be the single best early
design decision in the entire history of the company. It seems
hard to imagine the iPhone any other way now, but at the outset it
was not a foregone conclusion that a stripped down and revamped
version of OS X would work for a mobile phone. […]
The word on the street in Cupertino is not that Fadell was pushed
out the door, but that he was never offered a role like
Papermaster’s, encompassing all of Apple’s handheld hardware
engineering. The iPhone has eclipsed the iPod as the A Team at
Apple, and Tony Fadell does not sound like a B Team sort of guy.
So it’s not like Fadell is an unbiased observer here. And as for his comment that Forstall’s ouster resulted in cheering from employees in Cupertino, I’m sure that’s true, but it’s important to keep in mind that the cheering was not universal. At least within Forstall’s iOS division, many engineers and designers liked working under Forstall, and felt that he had their backs. He was divisive — polarizing — not universally disliked.
Fantastical for iPhone ★
Very well done. My new go-to calendaring app for the iPhone. See Lex Friedman’s review at Macworld for more.
‘Scott Got What He Deserved’ ★
Leo Kelion of the BBC, interviewing Tony Fadell:
So what does he make of the news that Mr Forstall lost his post in
October after reports of rifts with other executives and a refusal
to apologise for the release of a flawed Maps app.
“Scott got what he deserved,” Mr Fadell told the BBC.
When pressed, he adds: “I think what happened just a few weeks
back was deserved and justified and it happened.”
Worth watching to see in context. Pretty clear Fadell and Forstall weren’t buds.
Recreating the Sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Using the Web Audio API ★
Audio is the final nail in Flash’s coffin. Great work here from the BBC. (Via Jory Prum.)
Apple Says ‘Jump’; Carriers Reply ‘How High?’ ★
Mike Hibberd, Telecoms.com:
Apple is not allowing mobile operators to offer the iPhone 5 as an
LTE device unless they pass the Californian vendor’s own,
independent tests for LTE network performance, Swisscom has
Telecoms.com was told of Apple’s policy in October but, at the
time, no operator had conceded publicly that it was true.
WSJ: ‘Eddy Cue: Apple’s Rising Mr. Fix-It’ ★
Jessica E. Lessin, in a piece for the WSJ:
The ascent solidifies Mr. Cue’s role as one of the chief deputies
to Mr. Cook, who has surrounded himself with several close
advisers without elevating one to a clear number two. Mr. Cue has
the loyalty and admiration of many longtime employees, who respect
that he was with Apple during the dark days before Mr. Jobs began
his turnaround of the company in the late 1990s.
Mr. Cue is also a champion of the Apple way: Entering new areas
patiently and slowly and preaching the need to put the customer
first. To negotiating partners, he epitomizes the company’s
penchant for secrecy with a poker face that media companies
scramble to decipher.
Mr. Cue couldn’t be reached for comment and Apple didn’t make him
available for an interview.
Also says iTunes 11 may arrive tomorrow. Apple’s running out of time for their “November” deadline, and it’s unclear whether the Journal is basing this expectation on that deadline, or information from a source. The article simply states:
This week, Mr. Cue faces a test of how well Apple can keep up in
online services with the launch of a new desktop version of
iTunes, which is expected as soon as Thursday.
Ericsson, Doing Just Fine ★
Re: my “Ericsson is still in business?” quip yesterday: as dozens of DF readers have kindly pointed out, they are most definitely still in business. Billions in quarterly profits from telecom equipment. It was only the handset business (in collaboration with — and earlier this year, bought out by — Sony) that tanked. You learn something every day.
Which Bond Villains’ Plan Would Have Worked? ★
Screw it, let’s go for the Bond five-fecta. (Via Chris Pepper.)
LACMA Kubrick App ★
Speaking of Kubrick museum exhibitions, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art commissioned this neat (and free) iOS app to go along with theirs.
‘And They Took His Balls With Them’ ★
Speaking of good movies (and also via Coudal), BFI archivist Richard Daniels introduces pieces from The Shining exhibit at the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London:
The Archive also shows the great attention to detail which Kubrick
applied to the advertising of his film. Catriona McAvoy researched
in the archive for her MA dissertation. She highlights the
correspondence between Kubrick and Saul Bass who designed the
poster for the original release of the film. She refers to the
letter in which Kubrick explains that all of Bass’s designs are
“beautifully done but [none] of them are right”.
‘Skyfall’ Visual Effects ★
One more for the Bond quadruple play: a copiously illustrated piece by Ian Failes for FX Guide on the effects in Skyfall. Chock full of major spoilers — bookmark it to read later if you haven’t seen the movie yet. (Via Coudal.)
The Verge: Microsoft Planning for Annual Windows Updates ★
Tom Warren, The Verge:
A big part of Windows Blue is the push towards yearly updates for
Microsoft’s OS. Microsoft will kick off an annual upgrade cycle
for Windows that is designed to make it more competitive against
rival platforms from Apple and Google.
Good to know, but what option do they have? At this point, Microsoft not only has to plan for annual updates to compete with iOS and Android (and that other OS from Apple, name slips my mind — the desktop one), they also have to, you know, actually do it.
Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars ★
Still speaking of James Bond, this Top Gear special is well worth it if you have access to the BBC or know your way around the underweb. Update: Even better: it’s in iTunes for just $3.
Kaleidoscope 2.0 Beta ★
Very impressive update to this file/folder/image diff tool. (Nice to see Black Pixel finally ship something, too.)
‘May I Suggest That Mr. Bond Be Armed With a Revolver?’ ★
Speaking of James Bond, Letters of Note has the story behind how Bond came to carry a Walther PPK instead of a Beretta, as well as how Q came to be named Major Boothroyd.
See also: This 1964 BBC clip featuring Sean Connery introducing the real Boothroyd.
The Spy Mixology ★
Remember Jay Thrash’s Spy Mixology app, documenting every single drink consumed by James Bond in the movies? He’s updated it with a new design, more information, iOS 6 support, and, of course, Bond’s drinks from Skyfall.
Ericsson Sues Samsung on Patents ★
Ericsson is still in business?
The Ten Best Larry Sanders Episodes ★
Fix yourself a Salty Dog and enjoy this list from Edward Copeland, of the best episodes of one of the best shows ever:
Malina especially appreciated one section of dialogue before Hank
goes out to guest host the first time. “Arthur reassuring Hank
pre-show with the tepid, ‘You do not suck!’ and Hank responding
with ‘That’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to
me.’ One of the all-time great couplets of dialogue,” Malina said.
David Chartier Is Sick of Making Excuses for Mac OS X ★
Every time I have to explain one of OS X’s bizarre, (sometimes
arguably) buggy behaviors or windowing idiosyncrasies to my
father in law, I dearly wish the iPad had been out when he was in
Exhibit A: Open Mail, find a message with a zip attachment, and
double-click it. Nothing happens? Oh something happened. Archive
Utility opened to work its magic on the zip file, but you missed
its appearance in the Dock if you blinked. Don’t see anything
else? Of course you don’t, because Finder opened a new window to
reveal the spoils of Archive Utility’s victory behind Mail and
didn’t bother to tell you. No Dock bounce, no Finder brought to
the foreground to show you the folder.
Great example. iOS enforces a visual obviousness that makes computing better for nearly everyone. If you do something, the result will be shown to you, front and center.
Subcompact Publishing ★
Brilliant piece by Craig Mod on The Magazine and the imminent disruption of the publishing industry:
Navigation should be consistent and effortless. Subcompact
Publishing applications don’t require complex how-to pages or
tutorials. You shouldn’t have to hire a famous actor to show
readers how to use the app with his nose. Much like a printed
magazine or book, the interaction should be intuitive, effortless,
and grounding. The user should never feel lost.
A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy ★
Warren Buffett, in an op-ed yesterday for the NYT:
Suppose that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an
investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically.
“I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”
Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what
my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make.
If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my
savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover
Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.
I agree with every single word, including his idea to draw the “wealthy” line at $500,000, not $250,000.
Bloomberg: Apple Fired Maps Manager ★
Adam Sarariano, reporting for Bloomberg:
Richard Williamson, who oversaw the mapping team, was pushed out
by Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, said the people, who asked not
to be named because the information wasn’t yet public. Cue, who
took over last month as part of a management shakeup, is seeking
advice from outside mapping-technology experts and prodding
digital maps provider TomTom NV to fix landmark and
navigation data it shares with Apple.
Eddy Cue, not fucking around.
Macworld Reviews BusyCal 2.0 ★
Huge update to one of my favorite Mac apps.
An Inauspicious Start ★
Munster’s crew spent eight hours on Black Friday, as it has every
year for the past five years, counting heads at the Apple Store in
the Mall of America in Minneapolis. This year he (or his staff)
also spent two hours monitoring the Microsoft Store directly
across the hall.
Shoppers at the Apple Store bought an average of 11 iPads per
hour. Despite heavy TV, print and billboard advertising for the
new Microsoft Surface tablet, not one was sold during the two
hours Piper Jaffray spent monitoring that store. Doesn’t bode well
for Microsoft’s answer to the iPad.
Ouch. (Not sure why they didn’t measure the same hours at both stores, though.)
How PRWeb Helps Distribute Crap Into Google and News Sites ★
“What’s the use of PRWeb?,” tweeted Megan McCarthy of
Reuters, trying to digest how that service ended up circulating a
fake Google acquisition story. Come along, Megan and others, and
I’ll explain one of the sorriest uses, getting crap into Google
News and out into news sites.
Barnes and Noble Nook for iOS Brings Accessibility Support ★
Josh de Lioncourt, Maccessibility:
This is an enormous leap forward for the accessibility of books to
blind and visually impaired readers. There is only one of the
three major ebook players on iOS left without VoiceOver support.
(We are looking at you, Amazon Kindle).
Speaking of Ron Johnson ★
Anne D’Innocenzio reports for the AP on J.C. Penney’s continuing struggles:
The first sign that things were falling apart came in May when
rival Macy’s told analysts that sales were rising at its stores
that share malls with Penney locations. A week later, Penney
posted a $163 million quarterly loss. Revenue plunged 20 percent
to $3.15 billion. The number of customers visiting stores fell 10
But the changes Johnson is instituting are so radical, this might be the sort of thing where he really does need a few years:
Surrounding the shops will be wide aisles that Johnson calls
“streets.” Along those pathways will be ice cream and coffee bars
and wood tables with built-in iPad tablet computers that shoppers
can use to surf online.
Penney is starting to see some positive results from the
makeover it began. The company says so far that it has converted
about 11 percent of the floor space to shops-within-stores. The
shops’ average sales are more than double the sales in the rest
of the store.
Internal Apple Video Documents Apple Retail Store Design Philosophy ★
Seth Weintraub, 9to5 Mac:
The video is a pretty impressive piece of work from director Peter
Sillen for something that never aired publicly. Among other
interesting tidbits, the video shows a store mock-up inside Covent
Garden (London) in 2008 before construction with Apple execs
examining design elements.
Apple’s Astonishing Profit in Context ★
Felix Richter, Statista:
From October 2011 through September 2012, the combined net
profit of Microsoft, Google, eBay, Yahoo, Facebook and Amazon
was $34.4 billion. Apple alone made $7 billion more.
In the same period, Dell, Asus, Intel, Acer, IBM, Lenovo and HP,
i.e. virtually the entire PC industry, made $19.3 billion or
less than half of Apple’s profit.
Android vs. iOS, Market Share vs. Usage Share ★
Although Android devices are clearly beating out iOS devices from
an overall sales-figure perspective, it is apparent that iOS users
are considerably more likely to use their devices to access the
internet and purchase items.
MG Siegler Reviews the Surface With Windows RT ★
After using it for over a week now, it’s hard to come up with a
lot of nice things to say about the Surface. Don’t get me wrong,
there are some solid things here. But by and large, it’s a
strange, buggy, and clunky product that I simply can’t imagine
many people buying after the initial hype wears off.
Put another way: I got one, but I don’t get it.
Here’s a taste:
Desktop mode (or the Desktop app, if you prefer) is a cruel joke.
It’s the same old Windows of decades past that you’re used to
(well, minus the Start button itself), but it’s on a touchscreen
device. And while some of the UI has been updated to make it more
touch-friendly, a lot of it has not been well, touched. I’ve never
had more mis-clicks, accidental closings, and all-around
frustration with a computer. Ever.
Product Desirability = Profitability ★
Peter M. De Lorenzo at Autoextremist, on the success of the VW Group:
You first have to have the product and that will never, ever,
change. Then you have to have the kind of brand image that is
crystal clear to consumers, one unwavering in its execution and
consistency. And if it’s dead-on — as Audi’s marriage of product
and brand image is — then you’re able to create the fundamental
desire for your product that will have people paying real money to
Sounds like another highly profitable company I know.
Shocker: Gizmodo Fell for Fraudulent Google Acquisition Stock Scam PR ★
Eric Limer, writing for Gizmodo:
Update: Looks like someone may have been a little quick to the draw on this one. AllThingsD is saying Google sources are denying claims of an acquisition. We’ve reached out to Google PR for comment.
Where by “someone” he means “we”.
TechCrunch too, among many others.
Fake Press Release Juices Penny Stock ★
The release was posted on PRWeb, a free service operated by the PR
firm Vocus, which, it just so happens, is publicly held on the
Nasdaq. I have a call in to PRWeb seeking some answers, but so far
haven’t heard back from anyone.
However, I just got this statement from ICOA CEO George
Strouthopoulos: “We are investigating the source, so far it
originated from Aruba!”
It’s the exclamation mark that made me smile.
‘It’s Like Drug Money’ ★
This week on America’s favorite podcast, special guest star Glenn Fleishman joins yours truly to talk about Jeopardy, independent media (including Glenn’s new role as Executive Editor of The Magazine), Microsoft’s and Apple’s executive shake-ups, and more.
Brought to you by two outstanding sponsors:
Gridditor: Brand-new innovative photo editor for iPhone and iPad.
Tonx: The best coffee in the world, shipped fresh to your door.
Nonetheless, Peter Chernin’s announcement shows us the future
of Twitter: a media company writing software that is optimized
for mostly passive users interested in a media and
Netflix CEO Says Amazon Losing $1 Billion a Year on Streaming Video ★
There are many companies that are hard to compete with. Amazon, though, is just plain crazy, because they don’t care about profits and seemingly don’t have to.
Shitty Software Patent of the Week: The Page Turn ★
If you want to know just how broken the patent system is, just
look at patent D670,713, filed by Apple and approved this week by
the United States Patent Office.
This design patent, titled, “Display screen or portion thereof
with animated graphical user interface,” gives Apple the
exclusive rights to the page turn in an e-reader application.
Yes, that’s right. Apple now owns the page turn.
Paul Thurrott: ‘Windows 8 Sales Well Below Projections’ ★
One of my most trusted sources at Microsoft confirmed Windows 8’s weak start this week. And with all of the drama surrounding Windows 8 and the recent, unexpected departure of Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, rumors are sure to swirl.
Google Struggling With Nexus 4 Demand ★
Product launches are hard.
(It occurs to me that, at only $299 and unlocked, the Nexus 4 is the Android equivalent of an iPod Touch I’ve long wished for — modern hardware specs, current OS, no contract, $300 or less. No wonder demand is high.)
Fireballed: Cached here.
The Verge: HTC Droid DNA Review ★
Like I thought, that amazing 440 PPI display comes with a few catches: scrolling hiccups and poor battery life.
Questionable Science ★
Jim Dalrymple on a story in the L.A. Times predicting the Kindle Fire HD will outsell the iPad Mini by 2 to 1 — based on searches at CouponCodes4u.com.
The Cost of Mobile Clicks ★
Horace Dediu on Google’s declining operating margin:
The bottom line is that an individual click is not as valuable as
it used to be. Would a larger volume of mobile usage be a reason?
Google won’t say.
Nettelator for App.net ★
Another top-tier iPhone Twitter client gets an App.net sibling.
Stray Penises and Politicos ★
David Simon on the Petraeus scandal and the base hypocrisy of the purportedly serious U.S. news media. Just great. Don’t miss the follow-up, either.
Matt Rosoff, CITEworld:
Todd Bradley, the head of HP’s PC business, does not view
Microsoft’s Surface tablet as a challenge.
“I’d hardly call Surface competition,” Bradley said in an
interview with CITEworld. He listed several reasons, “One, very
limited distribution. It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as
you use it …. It’s expensive. Holistically, the press has made a
bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to
So, HP has a tablet that will outsell Surface this quarter?
Never Say Never Again ★
Perfect Tumblr idea: an ongoing collection of “Steve Jobs would never…” tweets. (Via Dan Provost.)
Survey: U.S. Consumers Hesitant to Make Switch to Windows 8 ★
Byron Acohido, USA Today:
Most Windows users in the U.S. know about Windows 8 but few have
immediate plans to upgrade to Microsoft’s newest operating system.
What’s more, about one-third of Windows 7, Windows Vista and
Windows XP users who are ready to buy a new personal computer say
they intend to switch to an Apple product.
Those are the findings of an unusually broad survey of Windows PC
users conducted by antivirus company Avast and released
exclusively to USA TODAY.
If true, this is very good news for Apple. Historically, the single biggest problem Apple faced in the PC market is that most consumers never even considered buying an Apple computer. If this number of potential switchers is even close to true, Mac and iPad sales are going to continue to grow.
As for Microsoft, though, I disagree with Jim Dalrymple that this is necessarily a sign of unhappy users. I don’t think it’s ever been the case that a majority of PC users have upgraded to a new version of Windows. That’s why XP has stuck around for so long. People buy PCs and “upgrade” to a new version of Windows when they buy their next new PC. I don’t think this has as much to do with whether Windows 8 is appealing as it does that a growing number of people are realizing that Apple offers alternatives to Windows PCs that are worth considering. It’s that simple.
Google TV Updated ★
Curious. No mention of whether they hit their expectation of being installed on the majority of new TVs sold today.
Update: Neven Mrgan points out that the remote control in the commercial is bizarrely thick. No joke: it looks bigger by volume than an entire Apple TV. What’s the deal?
Google vs. Samsung ★
Horace Dediu on Samsung’s booming profits:
All this plus an overall growth in volumes from 64 million to
over 100 million per quarter has meant that the company is raking
in enormous profits. Not only did it overtake Nokia, the market
share leader for 14 years, but is making more profits than Nokia
So much profit in fact that it has overtaken Google’s decisively.
The reason I point this out is that Samsung’s success is dependent
on having ridden on the back of Android. Samsung’s ascent can be
precisely timed to their adoption of Android.
So Google is deep in the hole on Android but Samsung is making billions off it. Where does this wind up?
U.K. Court Sanctions Apple, Hopes ‘Lack of Integrity’ in Notice Incident Is Not ‘Typical’ ★
Apple really botched it with that snarky notice on their website about Samsung having been found not guilty in the U.K. of copying the iPad. Good copywriting, I still say, but bad lawyering. Should have just sucked it up and played it straight.
(In other Apple-Samsung legal news, Samsung seems to have a decent argument that the jury foreman in their big U.S. case was guilty of misconduct for failing to disclose his previous legal entanglement with Seagate.)
Is Siri Really Apple’s Future? ★
Kontra has been on fire lately.
‘He Was a Very Affectionate Dad, Who Could Solve All Your Problems, and When He Died Our Protective Umbrella Was Gone.’ ★
Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Katharina Kubrick and grandson Joe, interviewed on Reddit.
David Petraeus Affair Photos ★
“Everything you need to know about the CIA Director David Petraeus sex scandal. All photos and headlines are real.”
(Coincidentally, this site “fixes” WebKit font smoothing.)
Please Stop ‘Fixing’ Font Smoothing ★
So here is yet another plea for designers to stop “fixing” WebKit
font smoothing by disabling subpixel rendering. Feel free to use
it on light text on dark backgrounds, feel free to use it to fix
custom font rendering on Windows or to style specific bits of text
on the page to make it look more slender, but for main portions of
text where readability is paramount please leave the default
setting alone and let the operating system handle the smoothing.
Hear, hear. While you’re there, Fadeyev’s entire UsabilityPost is well worth checking out. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)
I fail to see how this makes strategic sense for Twitter. What are Windows 8 users supposed to do for a native Twitter experience? This is a huge problem for any new platform going forward; iOS might now have a stalled Twitter client ecosystem, but at least it has one. New platforms like Metro are never even going to get one off the ground.
Update: Now they’ve been forced to pull the app from the Windows Store.
Windows Head Steven Sinofsky to Leave Microsoft ★
The move comes less than a month after Sinofsky presided over the
launch of Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Surface tablet–products seen
as key to the future if the PC software pioneer is to retain its
position amid a market increasingly dominated by phones and
Sources have said the move came amid growing tension between
Sinofsky and other top executives. Sinofsky, though seen as highly
talented, was viewed at the top levels as not the kind of team
player that the company was looking for. The move is likened by
some to the recent ouster at Apple of iOS head Scott Forstall.
How many heads are left to roll before we get to Ballmer’s? I’m thinking none.
Update: But of course now, if and when the board finally does can Ballmer, who takes over? Sinofsky and Ray Ozzie are gone, and Gates presumably isn’t interested in coming back. I really thought Sinofsky was Microsoft’s next CEO.
Benedict Evans on the Q3 U.S. Handset Market ★
Benedict Evans, examining the numbers from the big four U.S. carriers:
In other words, Android has over 75% of the global smartphone
market, but just under 50% of the US market.
This is interesting:
The interesting analytical problem is that these figures are very
different from those from surveys of the install base (by Comscore
and others), which suggest that iPhone share is more like a third
of US smartphones. Yet the iPhone has been at or around 50% of
sales for almost 2 years. Either the surveys are wrong or the
iPhone has a significantly higher replacement cycle - despite
being on the same two-year contracts as Android. Puzzling.
I’ll bet it’s true that iPhone owners are more likely to upgrade every single year than Android owners, but not in large enough numbers to account for a discrepancy this large.
Define ‘Nice’ ★
Talk about a scoop — Wired’s Joshua Davis has been on the phone today with John McAfee, who’s on the lam from police in Belize, wanted for the murder of his next-door neighbor:
McAfee is currently on the run from the police. “Under no
circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this
country,” he told me this afternoon. “You can say I’m paranoid
about it but they will kill me, there is no question. They’ve
been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am
not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in
Nonetheless, McAfee insists he has no plans to leave the country.
“I like it here,” he says “It’s the nicest place on earth.”
Ed Bott on the Ads in Windows 8 ★
Ed Bott, “How Outraged Should You Be About Ads in Windows 8 Apps? Not at All”:
Paul and John are both mistaken. Those apps aren’t part of Windows
8. They are part of a separate Microsoft project specifically
designed to create showcase apps that will “inspire Windows 8 app
developers.” (I’ll get to those details later in this post.)
Although I’m sure the head of the Online Services Division would
love it if I were wrong, I am willing to bet those apps will not
be money-making machines in and of themselves.
So here’s the amusing thing. Most of my online work is paid for by
ads. Paul Thurrott’s newly redesigned Windows SuperSite (looks
great, by the way) is paid for by ads. Gruber’s site is paid for
(handsomely, if rumors are to be believed) by a single ad placed
discreetly alongside the content on his blog, and by ads in his
RSS feed and podcasts.
Words matter. I didn’t say anyone should be “outraged”. I just said it was “gross” — literally just that one word. Thurrott only said it “cheapened” Windows. So I agree with Bott and Thurrott: I don’t think anyone should be outraged, but I do think it cheapens Windows to ship it with ad-supported apps from Microsoft. To me it’s the software equivalent of those “Intel Inside” (and etc.) stickers on PC hardware.
Nor do I see any hypocrisy in ad-supported writers decrying the inclusion of ads in the OS. What’s the argument there — that if I write for an ad-supported publication I must forgo the right to complain about advertising in any and all contexts?
Paul Thurrott on the Ads in Windows 8 ★
Paul Thurrott, “Microsoft Cheapens Windows 8 With Ads”:
Now, apologists will explain that these ads aren’t in the OS user
interface, which is true, and that you really have to hunt for
them in the apps in which they do appear, which is also true. But
this is a slippery slope, folks. If you accept a few banal ads in
Windows 8 for $40, what would you accept in Windows 9 for $20?
When does it stop? And why wouldn’t it get worse?
I really do enjoy saying this: I agree with Paul Thurrott.
App Store Rejection of the Week: Drones+ ★
Matt Williams, reporting for The Guardian:
Josh Begley, a graduate student at New York University, developed
Drones+ to provide up-to-date information on strikes, using
reports collated by the London-based Bureau of Investigative
Journalism — an organisation that tracks the use of unmanned CIA
But repeated attempts to get Apple to offer the software at its
app store have been fruitless. At first, Begley was informed that
the program — which he hoped would raise awareness of the growing
death toll from drone strikes — was “not useful” enough and did
not appeal to a “broad enough audience”.
The company position has since shifted, but only in the reasoning
behind its refusal to stock Drones+. In the latest rejection
email, Apple reportedly informed him: “We found that your app
contains content that many audiences would find objectionable,
which is not in compliance with the app store review guidelines.”
Note that there’s nothing graphic about what the app depicts. It merely shows text alerts and maps. It’s not the app that’s objectionable; it’s the drone strikes.
Dave Winer on the iPad Mini ★
Dave Winer, writing at Gizmodo:
By the way, this is why the orchestrated reviews of products are
often worthless. I invite Mossberg, Pogue or Gruber to re-review
their iPad Mini now, a week after their initial reviews, and let
us know if they’re actually using it. And if they still think it’s
a winner. I believe it’s not only not a winner, but it signals a
new Apple that’s no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on
delighting its users to the point of orgasm.
I completely stand behind mine, and still have barely even used the iPad 4 I have on loan from Apple. Winer seems to agree with me that the ideal iPad is one which doesn’t yet exist (but surely will): a Mini with a 2048 x 1536 retina display. In the meantime, we have to choose: big iPad with sharp retina display, or small iPad with a fuzzy one. I’ve gone small and fuzzy.
As for this:
Once you’ve shipped an iPad with a super high-resolution “retina”
display, you can’t ask people to buy a new one that doesn’t have
it. Steve wouldn’t have done it.
I don’t see how the non-retina iPad Mini shipping seven months after the retina iPad 3 is any different than the non-retina iPad 2 shipping nine months after the retina iPhone 4 was unveiled. Retina spoils you. If Apple could go retina across the board in one fell swoop — all iPhones, all iPads, all Macs — they would. But they can’t.
HTC to Pay Apple Licensing Fees ★
Aries Poon and Lorraine Luk, reporting for the WSJ:
HTC Corp. will pay licensing fees to Apple Inc. as part of its
settlement agreement with the U.S. company, a person familiar with
the situation said.
It was unclear how much the Taiwanese smartphone maker would pay,
but given HTC’s deteriorating financial position, analysts
expressed concern about its long-term competitiveness.
So much for those patents HTC borrowed from Google.
Gmail Location Data Led FBI to Uncover Petraeus Affair ★
Kim Zetter, writing for Wired Threat Level:
In examining these other accounts, agents uncovered sexually
explicit e-mails that Broadwell exchanged with another party who
also used a Gmail account. Investigators were not able to
immediately identify Petraeus as the other party, however, because
he’d set up his Gmail account using a pseudonym.
Investigators determined sometime during mid-summer that it
belonged to Petraeus and that the two were having an affair. The
reports do not say how investigators made that connection.
According to the New York Times it’s not known if the FBI gained
access to Petraeus’ personal e-mail account, or if its
investigation relied solely on e-mails found in Broadwell’s
Google, which offers e-mail, cloud storage, a blogging platform,
web search, and other services, provides government agencies with
e-mail communications, documents, browsing activity, IP addresses
used to create an account and other data when asked.
I find it almost shocking that the director of the CIA would be foolish enough to think that a pseudonymous Google account was safe enough to exchange email with his mistress.
The New Acer Chromebook ★
The good news: it costs just $199.
The bad news: “over 3.5 hours of battery life”.
If you’ve got $199 to spend and only want to browse the web, why not buy a tablet that gives you all day battery life and offers actual native apps? I just don’t get it.
Ducking Google in Search Engines ★
Michael Rosenwald profiles DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg for The Washington Post:
A start-up taking on Google in search is much like a raft taking
on a cruise ship as a vacation option. But Weinberg is not
delusional. With money lining his pockets from selling a start-up
for $10 million, Weinberg bet there was a place in the market for
a product capitalizing on users’ emerging annoyances with Google — its search results gamed by marketers; its pages cluttered with
ads; every query tracked, logged and personalized to the point of
He called his little search engine project DuckDuckGo, after the
children’s game Duck, Duck, Goose. (Instead of “Just Google it,”
think “Just Duck it.”)
“My thesis for the company was, what can we do that other search
engines, because they’re big, can’t do easily?” Weinberg said.
“Because what’s good for Google business is bad for Google users.”
I spent a few months at the beginning of the year using DuckDuckGo as my main search engine; I eventually went back to Google simply because DuckDuckGo often felt too slow. I switched back to DuckDuckGo again last week and so far I’m really liking it. I’ve also been happy using them as the site search for DF.
(Don’t forget about this trick for turning DuckDuckGo into a replacement for Yahoo search in Safari. I really wish Apple would put its privacy-valuing money where its mouth is and add DuckDuckGo as an officially supported search engine option on Safari — especially on iOS, where you can’t modify the /etc/hosts file.)
Charging an iPhone Without AC Power ★
Better ideas than mine on how to charge your devices during an extended power outage.
David Sobotta, Circa 2007 ★
After the iPhone announcement in January 2007, noted Apple pessimist David Sobotta:
The iPhone is without a doubt the most elegant of gadgets, but I
get the feeling the reflection you see in the shiny surface might
well be the high water mark for Apple. Time will tell if the
iPhone will live up to euphoria that seems to have gripped the
Apple world today.
Yes, it will.
The most overdue announcement was taking ‘Computers’ out of
Apple’s name. There is some sadness from seeing that actually
happen. At one time Apple produced the computer for the rest of
us. That seems to be flipped on its head these days even as
Apple’s market share grows. My guess is that in spite of the
iPhone and the other i-products, history will still look on Bill
Gates more favorably than Steve Jobs. Then again, “One Laptop Per
Child” might surpass them both.
Every single quarter since Sobotta said the above, Mac sales have outgrown those of the PC industry as a whole.
(Thanks to DF reader Jonathan Flath.)
Is This Even Legal? ★
Hedge fund manager Doug Kass trashed Apple stock a month ago, now starts buying it back after it’s dropped 20 percent.
Apple Is Doomed ★
Dan Lyons talks to former Apple sales executive (1984–2004 — not that recent) and gets a scathing critique of Apple and its prospects under Tim Cook. Whole thing feels specious to me (summary: Apple is doomed without Steve Jobs) but let’s focus on just one part:
“The third is that Apple is a `next great thing’ company, and that
in and of itself is unsustainable. They haven’t found the next
great thing after the iPad and iPhone, and their shares in both
those areas are slipping. Of course they are ignoring traditional
computers to a large extent.
“I could add a fourth [factor] related to the third point, but
it’s debatable. Always in the past when Apple screwed up or got
too cocky, they could fall back on a core group of `prosumers’ who
were dedicated to Apple’s products. I think Apple has lost or is
in the process of losing those folks, but I have no way to measure
that other than I know a fair number of folks like myself that are
no longer Apple products evangelists.
“I got a note from [a former Apple colleague] last night that it
was time to replace his wife’s MacBook and he offered to get her
whatever she wanted. She chose Lenovo.”
Apple is “ignoring traditional computers” and is losing the “prosumer” market. And an unnamed former Apple employee’s wife bought a Lenovo notebook. Meantime, Apple is number one in U.S. notebook sales; they’ve released two new MacBook Pros with retina displays that blow away anything from any competitor in terms of professional-caliber display technology, thinness, and weight; and Mac sales have outgrown the PC industry as a whole every single quarter for six consecutive years.
Would be nice to see how well the Mac could be doing if Apple weren’t ignoring traditional computers.
‘More Useful and Less Horrible’ ★
Joining me on this week’s episode of The Talk Show: special guest Dan Frommer. Topics include the iPad Mini, ideas for the future of iOS, Microsoft Surface, Virgin America and the state of U.S. airlines, and more.
Brought to you by two great sponsors:
- Voila — A powerful screen capture and screen recording tool for your Mac.
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Eton Boost Turbine Hand-Cranked USB Chargers ★
External USB battery charger with a twist: you can power it up with a hand crank. Post-Sandy, I’m thinking I need one of these.
The 16 GB Surface ★
John Moltz, on the news that a 32 GB Surface only has 16 GB of user-available storage:
By contrast, my 32 GB third generation iPad has 28 GB of usable
space. Of course, you could probably get a hunk of the Surface’s
space back by deleting Office, but the ability to run total
awesomeness like Office is the Surface’s key selling point.
Windows 8 Includes Built-in Advertising ★
Sad but unsurprising results.
Apple’s Design Problems Aren’t Skeuomorphic ★
Must-read piece by Kontra:
In the end, what’s wrong with iOS isn’t the dark linen behind the
app icons at the bottom of the screen, but the fact that iOS ought
to have much better inter-application management and navigation
than users fiddling with tiny icons.
Best list of where iOS needs serious work that I’ve seen.
The Math Behind Paper for iPad’s New Color-Mixer ★
Fascinating behind-the-scenes look by Chris Dannen at a very cool new feature in Paper. We’re only just getting started in developing touch-optimized interfaces.
Linking to Bullshit ★
The industry of writing inflammatory bullshit about Apple is
booming. It’s booming partially because writing inflammatory Apple
headlines gets a lot of clicks. Apple is popular and the dominant
player in many industries, so anything that attacks it will
attract attention. […]
If you truly dislike bullshit writing and don’t want to support
it, hit the publishers where it hurts: don’t read it, and don’t
link to it.
I’ve given much thought to this over the years, for obvious reasons. I certainly link to bullshit less often than I used to. “Jackass of the Week” used to be an actual weekly feature, but as DF has grown in popularity, I’ve adjusted my standards for what I’m willing to give attention to.
My rule of thumb is to ignore anything that is stupid and languishing in obscurity. But if it’s stupid and published on a high-traffic site, or it’s an expression of a widely-held misconception, it’s often worth addressing, bullshit or not. Or take a guy like Rob Enderle. He’s a troll and an idiot, but he’s often worth linking to because he’s so frequently quoted as a knowledgeable expert by mainstream media reporters. If none of us ever linked to him, there’d be no record showing just how spectacularly wrong he’s been over the years.
The other thing is, I worry mostly about your attention, dear reader. If some jackass writes something willfully ignorant about Apple (or any other topic for that matter) and is privately pleased as punch after I link to it, because of the influx of page views, so be it. I don’t worry about page views. What I worry about is whether it’s worth your precious attention for me to link to something and comment on it.
‘Obama Played OHIO to Win 26-24’ ★
Dave Wiskus has a screenshot from Obama and Romney’s Electionpress match.
Curious Timing ★
Circumstantial evidence that maybe Apple has been spitefully withholding Google’s apps from the App Store:
Announced in August, Google’s new Google Search app for iOS
has been apparently stuck in Apple’s app approval process for
over two months. No longer. Google’s just announced that the
new app is out.
One possible explanation: there were technical problems or guideline violations that Google needed to fix. The other: Apple froze it in the queue out of spite, because Google Voice Search compares so favorably to Siri.
Intriguingly, the update finally appeared in the App Store on October 30 — the day after Scott Forstall was ousted.
Jason Fried Is Hiring a Personal iOS Prototyper ★
Sounds like a fascinating job.
Curious Spin From Google Regarding iOS Maps ★
Michael Grothaus had a piece in The Guardian, wherein unnamed sources from Google claim they think Google’s still-unfinished iOS Maps app is going to be rejected by Apple:
Sources at Google familiar with its mapping plans say they are
“not optimistic” that Apple will ever approve a dedicated Google
Maps iOS app. Though the app is reportedly in development and
should be ready to ship by the end of the year, the sources say
their plans are only proceeding in “the unlikely event” that Apple
will choose to approve the app.
Why would Apple reject a Google Maps app? There are plenty of mapping apps in the store, including several that use Google Maps APIs as the back end. There are numerous Google apps in the store, including the competes-with-Siri Google Voice Search.
As “proof”, they point to Apple’s curated “Find maps for your iPhone” section of the store, which currently lists no apps using Google Maps for the back end data. But even if Apple wouldn’t list an official Google Maps app in that curated list (and that’s a big if), that’s not the same thing as not allowing it into the App Store in the first place.
If Google submits a Google Maps app that complies with the App Store rules and guidelines, Apple will accept it.
Paul Thurrott Nailed It ★
First, however, I would reminder readers that when Apple first
introduced the iPad, I complained that a smaller, 7-inch version
would be the more appropriate size for such a device, assuming of
course that you intended to use it as I do, as a consumption
device. (That is, you’re not going to replace a laptop and connect
a keyboard.) Through various Kindle Fire devices and, more
recently, the Google Nexus 7, this opinion has held up. And now
that I see Apple’s take on it — a slightly wider 7.9-inch variant
of the 7-inch tablet — I’m happy to announce, for once, I told
you so. This is the ideal iPad.
He’s right. Here’s what he wrote in 2010:
The current iPad is too big and too heavy, and any refresh should
use Amazon’s Kindle as a guide: In fact, it should be the exact
same size and weight as Amazon’s device if possible. Granted, not
everyone is going to want a 7-inch iPad. But this model,
positioned squarely between the iPod touch and currently 10-inch
iPad, would provide a perfect middle ground, especially for those
who will continue to use the iPad for consumption purposes only.
(As is the case with virtually all iPad owners today, by the way.)
And that would provide an opening for the larger device to turn
into more of mainstream computing device.
Claim chowder works both ways. He nailed this one.
Farhad Manjoo, Not a Fan of the Microsoft Surface ★
The first problem is speed. Everything you do on the Surface takes
more time than you expect. When you load an app, switch between
apps, launch a Web page, go back to a previous Web page, check
your email, and do pretty much anything else, you’ll find yourself
waiting a half-second too long. This sounds like nothing, but when
you compound that time time across every action on the Surface,
the wasted half-seconds add up to an annoying trudge.
Funny how the tables turn. A decade ago, Windows XP was snappy and Mac OS X was the one where things like resizing windows or even pulling down menus felt slow. I think this is a major problem for Microsoft, though, because responsiveness is more important on touchscreen UIs than desktop UIs.
The Real iPad ★
My take after spending a bunch of the weekend with the iPad mini:
This is the real iPad. With the exception of screen sharpness,
everything about it is better than the bigger, “classic” iPad — and screen sharpness won’t be a deal breaker for the vast majority
I’ve been asked by several readers why, if this is a seemingly better form factor, Apple didn’t go with this size for the original iPad. I think there are several factors. First, I don’t think they could have, technically. The original iPad in 2010 was pretty thick compared even to the iPad 2. If they couldn’t make it thinner then, I don’t think they could have made it smaller either — not at the same price points.
Second, thinness and weight aside, I think the 9.7-inch size was better to start with conceptually, to establish the iPad in consumers’ minds as something they might want to own. The biggest complaint about the original iPad upon its unveiling was that it was nothing more than a “big iPhone”. That would have been an even bigger complaint if they’d launched with the smaller 7.9-inch display instead. The bigger difference in physical size made it even more likely that developers would do the work to create iPad-optimized versions of their iPhone apps, too.
Another week in, though, and I’m more convinced than even a week ago that the iPad Mini is the best size for most people. It’s last decade’s iPod story all over again.
Nate Silver and PECOTA ★
Nate Silver has been a lightning rod for controversy over the final weeks of this campaign, with arguments from the right that his model is somehow biased in Obama’s favor. We’ll see tomorrow. But in terms of arguments about Silver’s statistical chops, I thought this piece by Colby Cosh for Maclean’s was pretty interesting. In short, before turning his attention to politics, Silver’s claim to fame was a model for projecting future player performance in baseball, and in hindsight, it wasn’t as good as is widely believed. Some potential solace for those of you hoping Silver’s model has the presidential election wrong.
(There’s also the fact that Silver’s electoral college model could be exactly right and Romney still wins — if I say your odds of tossing a six on a die roll are only 17 percent, and you toss the die and hit the six, it doesn’t mean my odds were wrong. And Silver has Romney’s chances at just slightly lower than 1-in-6.)
In Nate We Trust ★
Big election here in the U.S. tomorrow; Nate Silver pegs Obama’s chance of winning at 86 percent. Other statistical models show it a bit tighter than Silver’s projection. Feels pretty tight to me. Update: Intrade’s betting market has it at even 67-33.
Google Voice Search vs. Siri ★
How fast should Siri be? This fast.
Chris Pirillo’s Microsoft Surface Review ★
I thought this was a fair and comprehensive review. Best line: “If you’re the sort of person who likes features over finish, Surface is for you.”
‘Chewbacca Does It Again’ ★
This week’s episode of my podcast, with special guest star MG Siegler. Topics include the new iPad Mini and iPad 4, Scott Forstall’s ousting from Apple, Microsoft Surface and the launch of Windows 8, and Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise.
Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:
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Google’s Lame Excuse for Not Offering LTE on Nexus 4 ★
I do not think that the writers at The Verge are being
intentionally apologist. I have too much respect for the staff
there and neither Bohn nor Patel has a history of that kind of
thing. However, the article as written is nowhere near as hard
enough on Google for not delivering LTE in the Nexus 4 as it
should be. And it manages to almost completely avoid what should
have been the big elephant in the room: Apple has managed to ship
a flagship phone with almost no carrier compromises and LTE, so
why can’t Google?
Open always wins.
Update: I’m not trying to be all that glib here. The real explanation for why the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE but the iPhone 5 does is indeed easy: the iPhone’s massive popularity gives Apple leverage over the carriers that Google doesn’t have because Nexus phones have never sold in meaningful numbers. But the point Panzarino and others have made is that it’s no one’s fault but Google’s own that they don’t have this leverage, because they ceded control over Android to the carriers in the name of market share. “Android” has thus become wildly successful as a phone platform, but the true Android experience exactly as Google defines it languishes in obscurity.
Google can make up all the excuses they want about why the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE, but the simple answer is that it wasn’t up to them. It was up to the carriers, and the carriers said no.
Why Brent Ozar Is Returning His Microsoft Surface RT ★
Just a downright scathing review, backed by video footage showing the severe performance problems. He’s not a fan of the iPad, and I think very clearly wanted to like the Surface. (In my hands-on time with Surface at last week’s Windows 8 launch event in NYC, I noticed that the Office apps felt sluggish. Like using apps in emulation or over a really good VNC connection.)
Jeff Atwood on Surface and the Tablet Plus Keyboard Form Factor ★
After living with the Surface RT for a few days now, I’m convinced
that this form factor is the replacement and way forward for the
stagnant laptop. I can’t even remember the last time I was this
excited about a computer. The more I use it, the more I think that
touch plus keyboard is the future of all laptops.
Possible, and that certainly is what Microsoft is betting on with the design of Windows 8. But it’s worth noting that that’s a bet against Apple, which is both the leading tablet and laptop PC maker in the world.
Also, the photo Atwood includes doesn’t exactly sell me on the ergonomics of using a tablet as a laptop with keyboard. Many of us have used laptop and notebook interchangeably over the years, but the tablet era is showing that there’s a semantic difference between the two. Tablets with hardware keyboards can make for great notebook computers; I have yet to see one that makes for a good laptop computer.
Hal Berenson on the Microsoft Surface ★
Interesting hands-on review:
Now we’re going to get to the core of the matter. What really
makes the Surface difference. In your hands it is, at worst, yet
another tablet. Prop it up on a table or other flat surface and
something magical happens. The weaknesses of typing on a virtual
keyboard or positioning on a capacitive touch screen fade away and
you get all the benefits of a real keyboard and pointing device.
Sure that shows up in simple ways, like being able to easily and
accurately type in a password.
Basically, for him, Surface is exactly what Microsoft promised.
Why Amazon Is a Terrifying Competitor ★
In any line of business where you’re earning healthy profits you
always need to worry that a competitor will undercut you on price.
But normally you can also have some confidence that they’ll be
restrained in their price cutting by the need to maintain profits
of their own. Amazon is totally off the leash in this regard. Wall
Street treats it like a brand new startup that just needs to think
about growth and can find a viable business model later. Which
means that if they come after you, you have no recourse. Your
profits are going to shrink, and your investors are going to
punish you for it but Amazon’s profits don’t necessarily need to
grow proportionally. They just need to show they can poach your
Eddy Cue ★
Terrific profile of Eddy Cue by Greg Sandoval at CNet:
Cue built even more credibility by not trying to hide Apple’s
intentions. In 2004, Cue stated very clearly that Apple was
interested in selling media as a means to sell gadgets. “There’s a
better margin in iPods than in the record business,” Cue told the
trade journal Music Week.
“He wasn’t altruistic, certainly,” said Chris Castle, an attorney
who has worked with music-tech companies for years and has
negotiated with Cue. “He had an agenda, of course. My impression
was that he was very clearly about Apple’s interest, but it was
clear he also wanted to be fair. Apple never tried to steal music
like many of these other guys. They cared about content It was
never about what they could get away with. With Eddy you felt you
had a fair hearing.”
Nexus 4 Camera Samples ★
Just me or does it seem like Google rushed to ship Android’s panoramic photo feature? (Sounds like the new best Android phone overall, though, lack of LTE support aside.)
Update: Apparently this is a “photosphere” image, not a panoramic image. Regardless, looks like ass, no?
iPad 4 GPU Performance ★
Watercooler 1.0 ★
I got excited as soon as I heard just the name of Troy Gaul’s new iPhone client app for App.net and Twitter. The “virtual water cooler” is exactly how I’ve long described my affection for Twitter. I have no colleagues; I work alone all day every day. But ever since Twitter, I feel like I’m not alone.
And then once I saw Watercooler, I got even more excited. (I’ve been beta testing the app for a few months.) Back in 2009 I wrote “Twitter Clients Are a UI Playground”, the gist of my argument being that the relative simplicity and smallness of the requirements of a Twitter client provides for tremendous room for creative UI design. Twitterrific, Tweetbot, and Twittelator Neue are all great apps, but all very different. And now we have Watercooler, which carves out a UI territory all to itself, inspired very much by Buzz Andersen and Neven Mrgan’s late, great, and much-missed Birdfeed.
Watercooler holds its own next to any other client, but what I like best compared to Netbot is that it’s so visually distinctive — instant recognition of which service I’m looking at, Twitter or App.net. I’ve had it on my first home screen for weeks now — looks great next to Letterpress. $5 on the App Store, worth every penny.