Linked List: June 2014

Moto 360 Display Is Not Actually Round 

Maybe they should have called it the Moto 270?

The Talk Show: ‘Diddling Your Feeds’ 

This week I’m joined by special guest Dave Wiskus. Topics include the new look and feel in OS X Yosemite (10.10), Google’s new “Material Design” look and feel for Android, smartwatches (including the new ones Google showed at I/O last week), and Dave’s new behind-the-scenes role at The Talk Show.

Dan Frommer: ‘These Are Not the Wearables We’ve Been Waiting For’ 

Dan Frommer, Quartz:

So perhaps Google is on the right track, and we’ll all be using smartwatches someday. But we’re not there yet — not in the software, hardware, design, or ecosystem. And Apple is going to have to do better than this if it expects the fabled iWatch to dominate.

Pre-Release Look at BlackBerry Passport 

Now that’s an original form factor — I say this with admiration. Take the logo off the front (please) and you’d know instantly that this is a new BlackBerry. Too little too late to save the company and platform, I suspect, but maybe if they’d come out with something like this in 2010, they might have had something.

Tim Cook and Apple Celebrate at San Francisco Pride Parade 

If you like seeing very happy people, take a look at these photos.

Canvas From Campaign Monitor 

My thanks to Campaign Monitor for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Canvas. Canvas is a brand-new design tool that makes it drop dead easy for anyone to create a beautiful — and completely responsive — email that looks great on any device. Responsive design for the web can be tricky; responsive design for email is really hard. Canvas makes it simple.

Gorgeous typography, retina images, and a flexible layout system all wrapped in a simple, drag-and-drop interface. Take one minute and watch their video to see for yourself.

‘Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended’ 

The emoji standard has been extended with over 200 new characters. One of them is: “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended”. On this week’s episode of The Talk Show, Paul Kafasis raised an interesting question: Will Apple support this character?

I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’m going to say yes, they will. But it’s a damn good question.

Facebook Manipulated Users’ Feeds for a Psychology Experiment 

William Hughes, writing for the AV Club:

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds — specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.

This is hugely controversial, but I’m only surprised that anyone is surprised. Yes, this is creepy as hell, and indicates a complete and utter lack of respect for their users’ privacy or the integrity of their feed content. Guess what: that’s Facebook.

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” the saying goes. Fool me two dozen times — there’s no adage for that.

Withings Activité 

Here’s a smartwatch that is truly nice-looking and well-designed. Not just in terms of how it looks (and it’s a very nice-looking watch, in my opinion, with unisex appeal), but how it works. E.g. it runs on a standard watch battery for a year.

Brad Stone Profiles Sundar Pichai for Businessweek 

Feel free to roll your eyes at the headline, “Google’s Sundar Pichai Is the Most Powerful Man in Mobile”, but there’s some interesting backstory in Stone’s piece, including this bit indicating that Larry Page effectively removed Andy Rubin from the Android team:

“There was nothing ever personal,” Pichai says, when asked whether he got along with Rubin. “We had a good sense of friendship, though we weren’t particularly close, but we never had any major disagreements. We had passionate debates about certain courses.” He allows that their styles differed. “Andy kept a lot about how he thought about things to himself. My sense is that at a base level, that is how he functioned. Andy had a plan and a strategy, but it was inside his own head.” Google declined to make Rubin available for comment, and Pichai says he doesn’t consult with him. [...]

At the beginning of 2013, CEO Page told Rubin he had to integrate Android with the rest of Google. Rubin agreed at first, then changed his mind and decided he couldn’t do it. He resigned his position, though he remains at Google, working on a skunk works robotics project. A person close to Google’s management says that forcing Rubin’s hand was the most difficult decision Page has made since reclaiming the CEO spot at Google three years ago. Page then handed responsibility for Android over to Pichai.

Stone is a committed Church of Market Share believer:

By 2013, Android was winning the smartphone war but lagging in newer markets.

Android’s share of “smartphones” is impressive, but it strikes me as odd to say that Android is “winning the smartphone war” in a world where Apple makes an overwhelming majority of the profit in the industry.

Later in the piece, this sentence on smartwatches struck me as odd:

Google is racing against Apple, which will introduce its iWatch in the fall.

Just stated as fact, including the name “iWatch”.

‘Like a Girl’ 

Great new campaign from Always:

Using “like a girl” as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl’s self-confidence.

We’re kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond, and making a start by showing them that doing it “like a girl” is an awesome thing.

Remember Facebook Phone? 

Mike Isaac, writing for the NYT Bits blog:

Facebook has long wanted to be a major part of how you use your smartphone. Now, it looks as if the company has all but abandoned one of its major strategies to do so.

The company has disbanded the team of engineers originally assigned to work on Facebook Home, its custom-made mobile software for Android devices, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Wearables, Fashion, and iWatch 

Khoi Vinh:

When technology companies look at goods that are built from the outside in, they generally see irrationality and inefficiency, a broken market just waiting to be corrected and “disrupted.” They believe that they can engineer so much value into these items that people will be swayed to buy goods built from the inside out, that the promise that drives hardware and software — “adopt this and benefit from its utility” — will convince people to upend their sartorial habits. This is how you get products like Google Glass, which assumes that consumers prize utility so much that they’re willing to look like they have no interest whatsoever in having intimate relations with another human being.

Remarkably prescient and apt, considering that he wrote this a few days before Google I/O and the blocky, ugly watches they showed from Samsung and LG. I’m convinced those things are dead on arrival. The Motorola 360 looks better, but I think only looks good in comparison to genuine clunkers like the Galaxy Gear and Pebble.

Here’s a simple question: Does the Moto 360 look so cool that people would want to wear it regardless of its functionality? I say: No way. It’s way too thick and oddly proportioned. And it strikes me as decidedly masculine. Thus I think it too is doomed.

If Apple is indeed making a wearable device that goes on your wrist, it should look like something you’d want to wear before you even see what it does.

‘Apple Might as Well Get Rid of Aperture While They’re at It’ 

Yours truly, in my WWDC prelude piece:

To that end, here’s what I’d like to see: a ground up rewrite of iPhoto, designed as a client for an iCloud-centric photo library. You can keep all your photos on your Mac, but they can all be on iCloud too, and thus accessible from your iOS devices anywhere with a network connection. The goal should be to make it such that an iCloud-using iPhone or iPad user will never lose a photo because they’re lost or broken their device, nor should they ever feel the need to permanently delete photos just because they’ve run out of storage space on the device.

Apple might as well get rid of Aperture while they’re at it, and focus on making iPhoto good enough for everyone short of true professional photographers — most of whom, I think, have settled on Adobe Lightroom. The writing has been on the wall for a while. If Apple still sees the need to separate truly expert features from the basic features most people need, they could do something like make the new iPhoto free for all users, and sell “iPhoto Pro” as an in-app purchase.

One of the things I heard at WWDC is that the new Photos app for Mac was started under the name “iPhoto X”. I think they abandoned that name because it carried too much baggage. The whole situation had gotten too complicated. iPhoto for iOS was ambitious but ultimately a failure — too complicated, too fiddly.

Post-WWDC, the way I hope Photos for Mac plays out is not that Apple offers a “pro” upgrade, but rather that extensions allow for third-party developers to improve image editing in Photos for Mac in a similar way to how they will for Photos on iOS. Photos for Mac will likely never be a true professional tool like Aperture was or Lightroom is, but it could be much, much more than a simple library. It could — and should — be something that works well for serious enthusiasts (a.k.a. “prosumers”) in a way that iPhoto never did.

Adobe ‘Doubling Down’ on Lightroom 

Winston Hendrickson, Adobe:

Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue to invest actively on the iOS and OSX platforms, and are committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.

I’m an enthusiast, not a professional, but I’ve been a very happy Lightroom user ever since version 1.0.

Apple Stops Development of Aperture 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple introduced a new Photos app during its Worldwide Developers Conference that will become the new platform for the company. As part of the transition, Apple told me today that they will no longer be developing its professional photography application, Aperture.

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

Seems like people are either not surprised at all by this announcement, or apoplectic with rage. It shouldn’t be surprising at all: Aperture hasn’t seen a serious update in years. The company is all-in on the new Photos app and creating a single cohesive iCloud-backed platform. I do feel bad for professionals with Aperture-based workflows and years of experience and habits, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Also worth noting:

Apple was very clear when I spoke with them this morning that development on other pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro is continuing.

It’s a reboot of Apple’s photo software, not a move away from pro apps in general.

‘The Gunfighter’ 

Hilarious, well-made short film by Eric Kissack. Find yourself 10 minutes and a big screen. (Via Michael B. Johnson.)

Avoiding ‘Sagan Syndrome’ 

Nathan Taylor, Praxtime:

Recall from my previous post how we have three wildly disparate time scales in play: millions, billions and trillions. Rounding to the nearest 20, we have:

  • Time for intelligent life to fill a galaxy: super short 20 million years
  • Time for intelligent life to evolve in a galaxy: moderate 20 billion years
  • Time of universe to keep having stars: super long 20 trillion years

The first perspective shift is to step back in time, and realize the universe is very young. With 20 trillion years of star generation ahead, the universe has only covered 13.7 billion years or roughly .07% of its life span. Compare this to a person who expects to live 70 years, and you’d get .07% * 70 years = roughly 18 days. So in human terms the universe is a three week old baby. No wonder there’s not too much life out there yet.

I can’t get enough of this stuff. Big thoughts, in every sense of the word. (Thanks to Jesse Larson.)

Android Wear First Impressions 

Steve Kovach, Business Insider:

I used one of the new Android Wear smartwatches, Samsung’s Gear Live, for several hours Thursday, and my wrist hasn’t stopped buzzing since I synced the device with my phone.

New email? Buzz. New text? Buzz. The thing won’t shut up. I’m one of those guys who obsessively checks his phone, but this is too much for me. Plus Android Wear ties in with Google’s digital assistant service Google Now, which attempts to help you out by notifying you about stuff it thinks you want to know about like upcoming flights or package deliveries.

So there are even more things to look at.

This isn’t the answer. Instead of solving the problem of whipping my phone out several times a day, Android Wear makes me nervous and anxious from all this hyper-connectivity. If I’m to ever go all in on a smartwatch it needs to be simpler than this.

The Fermi Paradox 

Tim Urban, writing for Wait But Why:

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization dedicated to listening for signals from other intelligent life. If we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array pick up all kinds of signals?

But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever.

Where is everybody? [...]

The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to Type III intelligence, there’s a wall that all or nearly all attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.

If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the timeline does the Great Filter occur

It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.

Great piece. (Via Kottke.)

Privacy as a Competitive Advantage for Apple 

Rich Mogull, writing for Macworld:

Corporations generally limit their altruism to charity, not to core product and business decisions. Apple likely sees a competitive advantage in privacy, especially when its biggest direct competition comes from advertising giant Google and the enterprise-friendly Microsoft. Apple believes consumers not only desire privacy, but will increasingly value privacy as a factor in their buying decisions.

Plus, even CEOs and product managers get creeped out when the government reads their email.

No doubt in my mind that Mogull is exactly right. Apple cares about user privacy, and they see it as a competitive advantage. Or if you want to be cynical, they care about it because they see it as a competitive advantage. Either way, it’s good for customers.

Apple Cuts Prices on iPod Touch Line 

The least-discussed member of the iOS device family, but Apple has sold over 100 million of them since 2007.

The Elephants in the Google I/O Room: Glass and Plus 

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

But even a stretch of presentations that had one attendee asleep in his chair apparently wasn’t enough runway to allow a mention of two troubled Google children: Glass and Plus.

Google+, the company’s attempt to unify its various products with a webbing of identity and social, was barely, barely mentioned at all during the keynote. Last year it took up a major chunk of the presentation and the year before it felt like a Google+ plus Glass keynote (complete with skydivers and biking on the roof of Moscone) with a smattering of other stuff thrown in.

This year, Glass wasn’t even mentioned, and no presenters wore it on stage. Even when the discussion turned to wearables — an ideal time to work in its face computer — Google had nothing to say.

‘When a Tie Is a Win, We All Lose’ 

Keith Olbermann on what’s wrong with soccer and the World Cup.

The Talk Show: ‘Oh Man, Soccer’ 

New episode of my podcast, with special guest star Paul Kafasis. Topics include the ongoing World Cup and the sport of soccer, Google Glass, mockups of devices in rumor reports, Amazon’s Fire Phone, the New York Times’s profile of Tim Cook last week, Apple’s growth, and the agonizingly slow death of Blackberry. Lastly, Paul brings up a devilishly tricky question regarding whether Apple will support a particular new addition to the Emoji specification.

Google Design 

By far my favorite thing announced at I/O today, this new set of design guidelines describing a universal design language for web and mobile apps is really very well conceived. This is the first time, ever, that Android has looked to me like a nice platform to use or to design software for.

Pre-Matias Duarte, Android was a horrid mess. Post-Duarte attempts at improving Android’s design were lipstick on a pig — taking something badly designed and trying to make it look better. This though, seems like a thoughtful, pleasing, ground-up design framework — something that finally feels like it came from the same mind that brought us the delightful WebOS.

If there’s a hitch, it’s that Google seems to be promoting this as a cross-platform design framework — a way to design just one interface for both iOS and Android. Google’s own apps for iOS already feel like weird moon man apps; now they’re encouraging third-party developers to follow their style rather than iOS’s.

Volvo and Honda Cars to Be Cross-Compatible With Both iOS CarPlay and Android Auto 

Volvo answers a question I had about CarPlay and Android Auto:

Volvo Cars will also include Apple CarPlay interoperability in all new models based on the new Scalable Product Architecture. This will make it possible for Volvo car drivers to connect the most widely used smartphone platforms directly to their car’s touch screen display.

9to5Mac reports that Honda and Hyundai systems will be cross-compatible as well.

Sony and PlayStation TV 

The most surprising (to me) part of Google’s Android TV announcement today was that Sony would be integrating it into their 2015 TV sets. Why in the world would Sony agree to integrate what is obviously a direct competitor to Playstation TV in its own TV sets?

‘Sixth Time’s the Charm’ 

Joanna Stern and Wilson Rothman, writing for the WSJ, take a look at today’s Android TV announcement and review Google’s track record with previous TV endeavors.

Eli Wallach Dies at 98 

Fantastic career. “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.

Google Introduces New Gmail API 

Eric DeFriez, Google technical lead for Gmail APIs:

For a while now, many of you have been asking for a better way to access data to build apps that integrate with Gmail. While IMAP is great at what it was designed for (connecting email clients to email servers in a standard way), it wasn’t really designed to do all of the cool things that you have been working on, which is why this week at Google I/O, we’re launching the beta of the new Gmail API.

Designed to let you easily deliver Gmail-enabled features, this new API is a standard Google API, which gives RESTful access to a user’s mailbox under OAuth 2.0 authorization. It supports CRUD operations on true Gmail datatypes such as messages, threads, labels and drafts.

Is this the beginning of the end for IMAP and SMTP access to Gmail?

Mike Wehner on Today’s Google I/O Keynote 

Mike Wehner, writing for The Daily Dot:

Google spent a good deal of time talking Android, showing the developers in the crowd some new UI elements they’ll be able to use in future apps, along with still-in-development versions of new software for in-car entertainment systems and TVs, named Android Auto and Android TV, respectively.

Then came a string of demos that Google probably wishes it could redo, including apps that wouldn’t load, a game graphics demo that was flickering and repeatedly cut out, and a coding example that had to be attempted three times before it displayed properly. It was all very strange, and the awkward mumbling from the audience whenever something broke certainly didn’t help matters.

After two hours of technical talk, with nary a mention of new hardware or consumer-level software, the attendees began to get a bit bored. It was at this point that Twitter briefly became a strange meta-I/O, with dozens, or perhaps hundreds of attendees hopping on their Twitter accounts to talk about how bad the show was — while it was still going on.

I watched the live stream, and agree with Wehner’s assessment. After the first 45 minutes or so (during which there were some truly interesting announcements), the whole thing just fell apart. Disorganized, unrehearsed, and worst of all: boring.

Now imagine if Apple held a WWDC keynote like this, and the shit storm that would ensue. The reactions would be apoplectic. There’d be pundits calling for Tim Cook to be fired. On the other hand, the fact that Apple never holds events this bad, never wastes time or attention like this, is a huge factor why Apple keynotes garner so much more attention than those of any other company. They deserve it.

Medium Hires Steven Levy 

David Carr, reporting for the NYT:

Medium, the online writing platform created by Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, has been something of a tabula rasa. Its publishing system and pretty interface has drawn raves, but as a media business it has been tough to pin down.

But Medium made its editorial ambitions clearer on Wednesday with the announcement that it had hired Steven Levy, an author and longtime technology writer who worked at Wired and Newsweek, as the editor in chief of an as-yet-unnamed technology site.

Mr. Levy, 63, will continue to write deep, long reports about the role of technology — perhaps broken up into smaller articles that will unfurl over days. He will also be commissioning articles from other writers.

Mat Honan’s Summary of Today’s Google I/O Keynote 

Great summary from Mat Honan at Wired.

The Long-Awaited Switch to Android-First App Development Hasn’t Happened Yet 

Dan Frommer:

Looking at 119 recent Y Combinator incubator participants and Google Ventures seed investments, of those offering apps, more than 90% had iOS apps, about half had both iOS and Android apps, and fewer than 10% only had Android apps. Among those with both, their iOS app typically launched several months ahead of their Android app.

This seems counterintuitive, perhaps, given how badly Android is beating iOS in sales. And indeed, some smart industry watchers had predicted that Android development would have passed iOS development by now. One example: Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, wrote last summer, “The switch to Android first hasn’t happened yet, but at least based on conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs, it seems likely to happen in the next year or two.”

It has been a year now, but Dixon concedes in an email to Quartz, “I don’t think it has happened yet.”

He doesn’t think.

Yahoo Aviate 

Android home screen replacement from Yahoo. They call it “simple” but it sure seems like they’re putting a lot of features into a home screen.

The Verge: First Look at the LG G Watch 

Looks like a small phone strapped to your wrist. (Or a regular-sized phone strapped to Craig Hockenberry’s wrist.)

$229. Good luck with that.


This is the more valuable of the two things Google gave to I/O attendees on their way out of today’s keynote.

Update: Prior art?

‘As Best They Can’ 

Android Police, on the “100 MB of free Verizon cell service for two years” rip-off for Chromebook Pixel owners:

For their part, Google seems to be dealing as best they can with Verizon’s stonewall. Customer support agents at Google don’t have any sway over Verizon, though they say that they’ve escalated the matter. The text describing the free data for the Pixel LTE listing on the Play Store previously read: “includes 100MB/month of mobile broadband service from Verizon Wireless, free for 2 years.” That’s been removed and replaced with the following: “This Pixel LTE is currently not eligible for any free Verizon data plans.

How is that “dealing the best they can”? Verizon didn’t sell these Chromebooks with the promise of two years of free service — Google did. You buy Chromebook Pixels directly from Google’s own Play Store, and until recently, when you did, they were sold with the promise of two years of free 100 MB per month data service from Verizon. Google can and should make this right by paying Verizon whatever it costs to fulfill this promise.

Update: Now Google is offering Pixel owners who were promised two years of LTE service $150 on prepaid Visa gift cards. That’s better.

Angela Ahrendts: ‘Starting Anew’ 

Angela Ahrendts, writing on LinkedIn:

Also, trust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in every situation; they will not fail you. Never will your objectivity be as clear or your instincts sharper than in the first 30-90 days. Cherish this time and fight the urge to overthink. Real human dialogue and interaction where you can feel and be felt will be invaluable as your vision, enabled by your instincts, becomes clearer. In honor of the great American poet Maya Angelou, always remember, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I would argue this is even more important in the early days.

An executive from any other company posting this to LinkedIn would be no big deal. But I’ve never seen anything like this from an Apple executive. Tim Cook’s Apple is opening up.

Mozilla to Develop $4 Million Comments Platform With New York Times and Washington Post 

Leslie Kaufman, reporting for the NYT:

The New York Times and The Washington Post announced on Thursday that they had teamed up with Mozilla to develop a new platform to better manage their readers’ online comments and contributions.

The platform will be supported by a grant of roughly $3.9 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes innovation in journalism.

I have an idea that could save them $4 million: just get rid of the comments.

Bloomberg: ‘Apple’s Big iPhones Said to Start Production Next Month’ 

Tim Culpan and Peter Burrows, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple is ramping up on two bigger-screen iPhones, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. One model will have a 4.7-inch screen that may be available to ship to retailers around September, said two of the people. A larger 5.5-inch version is also being prepared for manufacturing and may be available at the same time, the people said.

What are the pixel dimensions?

Is one of these phones a higher-end model than the other, like the iPhone 5S and 5C? Or are they two different sizes of the same-spec’d device, like the iPads Air and Mini?

Apple is getting ready for its annual unveiling of new iPhones, with bigger screens beyond the 4 inches of its current iPhone 5s after rivals including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. released smartphones with displays that are as large as 5.7 inches. Consumers have been gravitating toward larger-screen devices — in China, 40 percent of mobile gadgets based on Google Inc.’s Android operating system that were sold in 2014 had display sizes of more than 5 inches, according to an estimate from Forrester Research.

What about the 4-inch size? Is there going to be a new 4-inch iPhone too? If the logic for Apple making a big iPhone is that lots of people are buying big-screened Android phones, doesn’t it also hold that they should keep making 4-inch iPhones, given the immense popularity of the iPhone as it stands today?

Most people keep presenting this as a “bigger is better” situation, and that Apple has thus been caught flat-footed and behind, and now with the introduction of bigger-display iPhones they’re catching up. (Insert a finally here.) But to me it makes more sense to see it as a situation where an array of screen sizes to choose from is better than one-size-fits-all. Why not keep the 4-inch size and add a bigger iPhone (or two?).

One Year, Two Years, What’s the Difference? 

JR Raphael, writing for Computerworld:

When a company promises two years of free mobile data service with a device, you expect them to deliver. So what happens when a promise suddenly evaporates after you’ve purchased a product?

That’s the situation owners of Google’s LTE Chromebook Pixel are finding themselves facing right now. The LTE model of the Pixel went on sale from Google’s Play Store last April for $1450. At the time, the product was advertised as coming with a free two-year mobile broadband plan from Verizon — 100 MB per month, with the option to purchase more data on a pay-as-you-go basis as needed.

Fast-forward to one year later, and Pixel LTE owners are discovering their data plans have been disconnected. The option to pay for data remains, but the free 100 MB per month mysteriously vanished just one year into the promised two-year period.

Just a flat-out reneging.

That this story is only breaking in June, two months after it started affecting Chromebook Pixel owners, seems telling regarding the device’s popularity.

Customer Sat 

John Moltz:

To hear Tim Cook talk about it, Apple takes customer satisfaction very seriously, far more seriously than its competitors. But that may not quite be it: The difference between Apple and its competitors is that Apple’s customers and end-users are one and the same.

Probably the single thing that most differentiates the iPhone from all its top competitors.

iWatch Thoughts 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The most ambitious rumors project 50 million iWatches sold in the first 12 months. I think that’s an unrealistic estimate, but if a $300 iWatch can sell at these numbers, that’s $15B for the year. This seems like a huge number until you compare it to a conservative estimate for the iPhone: 50 million iPhones at $650 generates $32B per quarter.

Diane Von Furstenberg-Designed Google Glass Frames Are Now on Sale 

The frames look a bit weird without the Glass hardware in place. But then you look at them with the Glass hardware in place and you realize why they’re showing them without it.

‘What Worked for 500 Apps in 2008 Doesn’t Work for 1.2 Million in 2014.’ 

Andy Baio wants Apple to get social with App Store recommendations:

Apple is using discovery methods from the age of brick-and-mortar bookstores and videogame shops — shelves of staff picks and bestseller lists are useful, but they’ll never be able to expose more than the very surface of what’s in the App Store.

The failure of Ping may have left Apple scared of taking this on, but that would be a mistake. Ping failed because of bad execution, and a failure to iterate, not because it was a bad idea.

Something like Twitter’s @MagicRecs for iOS apps would be great.

Myo: Gesture Control Armband by Thalmic Labs 

A real product that seemingly inspired that Google Gesture concept armband. Neat. (Via Ken Ferry.)

‘From Now on, rebeccapurple Means #663399.’ 

Sweet gesture from the CSS Working Group.

Reuters ‘Tries to Prove’ They Have Their Heads Up Their Asses 

Michael Gold, reporting for Reuters:

Taiwan’s Quanta Computer Inc will start mass production of Apple Inc’s first smartwatch in July, a source familiar with the matter said, as the U.S. tech giant tries to prove it can still innovate against rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Kara Swisher on The Weather Channel Replacing Yahoo as Data Provider for Apple’s iOS Weather App 

Kara Swisher:

The look, feel and data has been provided to Apple by Yahoo for many years, part of a deal that sends a lot of traffic back to the Internet portal and spurs a multitude of downloads of its own handsome weather app.

I’m nearly certain Yahoo only ever provided Apple with the data, not the “look and feel”. Same thing with Stocks (which stills gets its data from Yahoo) and the old built-in YouTube app or the Maps app back when it was backed by Google Maps. Those apps are (or in the case of YouTube and Maps, were) designed and engineered by Apple; Yahoo and Google only ever provided the data. Plus, the Weather Channel-backed Weather app in the iOS 8 betas looks almost unchanged from the one in iOS 7.

Still, though — interesting that Yahoo let this slip. Seems a big win for The Weather Channel.

  1. Students from the Berghs School of Communication post this video demonstrating a purported new service from Google, Google Gesture, which through tendon- and ligament-sensing armbands, wireless networking, and an Android app, translates sign language into verbal speech accurately and in real-time.

  2. Berghs is a Swedish school that bills itself as “the best advertising school — in the world!”

  3. Note that the video was posted to Vimeo, not YouTube, by Berghs, not Google.

  4. Emailed by a Reddit user, one of the students who made the video describes it as “completely fictional”. So it’s not just merely a concept, it’s a concept Google itself had nothing to do with. A (well-done) student exercise in advertising, not computer science, biomechanics, or language translation.

  5. Mashable runs a story treating it as a real thing. (My favorite: “A release date for the app has not yet been announced.”)

  6. Android Central plays along. They’ve since updated the article to acknowledge that “it now seems more likely that this is a mock-up project from the marketing students at Berghs”, but the original headline (as evidenced by the URL slug) read “googles-developed-arm-bands-can-translate-sign-language-real-time”.

Rian Johnson on The Talk Show Last Year 

Worth a re-link, in light of today’s big news:

Very special guest Rian Johnson, writer-director of the hit movie Looper, joins Adam Lisagor and John Gruber for an in-depth discussion of the film and the art of filmmaking.

Don’t miss the link to Johnson’s Looper commentary track.

Rian Johnson to Write and Direct ‘Star Wars’ Episodes 8 and 9 

Looper was so smart and fun — this is great news for the franchise. Johnson’s only public statement so far is this tweet, which is just perfect.

LaunchBar 6 

Great update to one of my very favorite Mac apps. Lots of new stuff, including a beautiful new appearance. My favorite new feature is the as-you-type web search results from Google, DuckDuckGo, and more.

See also: Shawn Blanc’s review of LaunchBar 6 for Macworld.

WSJ: ‘Apple Plans Multiple Designs for Smartwatch’ 

Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. is planning multiple versions of a smartwatch likely to be launched in the fall, people familiar with the matter said, as the company tries to counter wearable devices from Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and others.

Really? Apple is “trying to counter” Google Glass and the Galaxy Gear? OK.

The new wrist device from Apple will incorporate more than 10 sensors including ones to track health and fitness, these people said. Apple aims to address an overarching criticism of existing smartwatches that they don’t provide functions significantly different from that of a smartphone, said a person familiar with the matter. [...]

Apple’s smartwatch could launch as early as October with production to begin within two to three months at Quanta Computer Inc., a Taiwanese manufacturer that has long been Apple’s supplier for Mac computers, said the people familiar with the matter. Quanta will begin some trial runs next month.

The smartwatch will likely come in multiple screen sizes, said one person familiar with the matter. Another person at a component supplier said shipments of the smartwatches are estimated to total between 10 million and 15 million units by the end of this year. The exact specifications of Apple’s smartwatch are still being finalized before mass production starts, said people familiar with the matter.

Interesting, but it sounds to me like all of this information comes from the supply chain and manufacturing sources. None of these sources told the Journal anything that these devices actually, you know, do, other than “track health and fitness”. This is all really vague, other than the “multiple sizes” thing. Then the whole thing devolves into made-up speculation from “analysts”.

Amazon’s Whale Strategy 

Ben Thompson:

The question, though, is if the Fire phone is perfect for Amazon’s customers. Just because someone loves Amazon doesn’t mean their entire life is about buying things. And while it’s true that Amazon has gone to great lengths to make the Fire Phone compelling as a phone, it’s still an inferior offering as compared to a high-end Android phone or especially an iPhone when it comes to things like apps. In this respect it’s fair to compare the Fire Phone to Facebook Home and the HTC First: just because people love Facebook didn’t mean they wanted Facebook to dominate their phone, and by extension, their lives.

Moreover, I was troubled by the faint sense of hubris in yesterday’s presentation; it was 45 minutes too long and included far too much self-congratulation and navel-gazing. We get that the design process for Dynamic Perspective was hard, but that doesn’t mean we care. More broadly, Amazon is a horizontal company: they ought to be serving everyone. Having their own phone introduces the wrong sort of incentives when it comes to Amazon’s efforts on Android and the iPhone; it’s the same danger I see in Microsoft focusing on both services and devices.

The Delighter 

Penny Arcade on the Fire Phone.

Washboard: New Startup Sells $10 Rolls of Quarters for $15 Each 

If today being National Martini Day hasn’t driven you to pour a stiff drink yet, this will. Jiminy.

(Via Chris Ziegler.)

Manual Camera Controls in iOS 8 

Joshua Ho, writing for AnandTech:

To be clear, iOS 8 will expose just about every manual camera control possible. This means that ISO, shutter speed, focus, white balance, and exposure bias can be manually set within a custom camera application. Outside of these manual controls, Apple has also added gray card functionality to bypass the auto white balance mechanism and both EV bracketing and shutter speed/ISO bracketing.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Apple has become one of the leading camera companies in the world, and quite possibly the most innovative. The image quality from the iPhone camera is an ideal example of hardware and software being inextricably tied in Apple products.


2005 idea from Jason Kottke:

Pings would be perfect for situations when texting or a phone call is too time consuming, distracting, or takes you out of the flow of your present experience. If you call your husband on the way home from work every night and say the same thing each time, perhaps a ping would be wouldn’t have to call and your husband wouldn’t have to stop what he was doing to answer the phone. You could even call it the “sweetheart ping” or “sweethearting”... in the absence of a prearraged “ping me when you’re leaving”, you could ping someone to let them know you’re thinking about them.

Sounds a lot like Yo, except somehow Kottke’s idea seems nifty and Yo sounds douchey. (Thanks to DF reader Mark Ott.)

The Martini FAQ 

Given today’s holiday, Brad Gadberry’s The Martini FAQ is well-worth a re-link. It is a delightful and comprehensive resource, and as I noted previously, I’ve never seen anyone so deftly navigate the gin/vodka divide.

In that spirit, as five o’clock rolls westward across the continent, may I also direct your attention once again to Jim Coudal’s Perfect.

‘Did You Put Fucking Zunes in Our Lockers?’ 

A peek at Steve Ballmer’s Gmail inbox, from Justin Halpern at Grantland.

The Near-Death of Grand Central Terminal 

Kevin Baker, writing for Harper’s:

Still unsatisfied, New York Central proposed in 1961 to build a three-level bowling alley over Grand Central’s Main Concourse, which would have required lowering the ceiling from sixty feet to fifteen and cutting off from view its glorious blue mural of the zodiac. This, too, was stopped. Foiled again, New York Central resorted to plastering the terminal with ads and bombarding travelers with canned Muzak, complete with commercials, over the public address system.

Good lord.


Another day, another app pre-installed on the phones they give you in hell.

Apple TV as HomeKit Hub 

Christopher Breen:

Wouldn’t it be better if each home had a small, power-efficient, always-on, platform-agnostic, Wi-Fi-enabled computer that could talk to your devices both remotely and over a local network?

Yes it would. Clever thinking.

Loot Crate 

My thanks to Loot Crate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that delivers cool geek, gaming, and pop culture items, ranging from licensed apparel to collectibles and exclusive one-of-a-kind gear. It’s like signing up to have a Christmas for yourself every month.

Loot Crate has over 150,000 subscribers already, and great partners like Marvel, WB/DC, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Random House, helping them delivery a unique mystery experience around a new theme monthly.

Each month you have until the 19th to sign up at 9 PM Pacific time — after that you have to wait for the next month. That means there’s a day left to sign up in time for June’s crate. Even better: use code “DF” and save 10 percent on any new plan today.

Facebook Slingshot 

Ellis Hamburger, writing for The Verge:

At first, Facebook’s new ephemeral messaging app, Slingshot, feels like yet another Snapchat clone. The free app, available now for iPhone and Android, lets you take a quick photo or video, mark it up with some colorful drawings, caption it with big white text, and then fire it off to a bunch of friends. But then you receive your first message, and you realize this is something completely different.

In Snapchat or any other messaging app, you can view a message as soon as you receive it. But in Slingshot, you can’t view an incoming “shot” until you send a shot back to the sender. “It’s not just about telling your story, it’s about asking others for their story,” says Slingshot designer Joey Flynn. In other words, Slingshot makes you trade a photo of what you’re doing before you can “unlock” the picture of whatever your friend is up to. Huh?

If they give you phones in hell, this is the sort of app that’s on them.

Lightroom for Your Camera 

Stu Maschwitz on the new Lightroom for iPhone:

I’m a “serious” photographer. I have cameras with red dots and and lenses with red rings. But I also take a ton of photos with my telephone. Having the power of Lightroom running on your actual camera is a major, important change to mobile photography. When you snap a shot, or, more likely, a series of shots on your iPhone, and then easily (even automatically) upload them to your Lightroom catalog, where you can then edit, flag, and now even rate them, with all changes synced to your master catalog, you have a speed and power in mobile photography that will have you rethinking your iPhone’s role as a “casual” camera.

iOS 8 Lets Apps Access Safari AutoFill Credentials 

Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5Mac:

In iOS 8, Apple is making the process of logging into apps a much smoother experience by allowing native iOS apps to access usernames and passwords stored in Safari. The new feature, which works by letting iOS apps tap into Safari’s AutoFill & Passwords feature, will allow users to login to apps with a simple tap rather than having to type login info. Imagine your username and password are stored in Safari’s AutoFill for Facebook, for example. When launching the native Facebook iOS app, the feature will let users select from passwords stored in Safari to quickly login (as pictured above with Apple’s demo “Shiny” app).

Nokia ‘Paid Millions to Software Blackmailers Six Years Ago’ 


Finnish telecoms equipment company Nokia paid several million euros to criminals who threatened to reveal the source code for part of an operating system used in its smartphones some six years ago, Finnish TV station MTV said on Tuesday. [...]

MTV said that the blackmailers had acquired the encryption key for a core part of Nokia’s Symbian software and threatened to make it public. Had it done so anyone could then have written additional code for Symbian including possible malware which would have been indistinguishable from the legitimate part of the software, MTV said.

After the blackmail attempt Nokia contacted the police and agreed to deliver the cash to a parking lot in Tampere, central Finland. The money was picked up but the police lost track of the culprits, MTV said.

Beats Headphones and the World Cup 

Esteban Israel, reporting for Reuters:

But soccer world governing body FIFA’s licensing agreement with rival electronics maker Sony Corp means players have to take them off when they are in World Cup stadiums for official matches and media events.

Marketing experts say that probably only amplifies their appeal.

“When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas (boots) or sip a sponsored beverage,” said strategist Ellen Petry Leanse, a former Apple and Google executive.

“Maybe more, actually — Beats isn’t a sponsor, so the message is more authentic and credible.”

Pretty good ad from Beats: “The Game Before the Game”.

Pencil: Surface Pressure 

Impressive use of the new pressure-sensitivity (really, more like surface area) APIs coming in iOS 8 this fall.

Amazon’s Fire Phone Pricing 

Dan Frommer:

Instead, Amazon has taken a somewhat surprising, more conservative path, hoping its unique features — a 3D interface, Prime media, free unlimited cloud storage, and Firefly product-recognition software — will sell enough Fire Phones on their own.

This may prove to be a better strategy in the long run: pushing the Amazon platform as an equal to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, instead of trying to be a cheap player in an industry that’s already getting commoditized on the low end. But it’s perhaps a tougher sell today than if this intriguing new phone were also competitive on price.

Very different strategy than they’ve taken with the Fire tablets.

Amazon Fire Phone 

iPhone-like physical design, including the lack of logos from either Amazon or AT&T on the front face. Also iPhone-like in pricing: $199 to start, with a two-year contract, and $650 without a contract for the 32 GB models. The best feature sounds like the camera: f/2.0 lens (slightly faster than the iPhone 5S’s f/2.2) and optical image stabilization.

I would love to get my hands on one of these to see what it’s actually like, but my impression is that it seems optimized — perhaps unsurprisingly so — for making it easy to buy things from Amazon.

Update: Uh-oh.

‘Magellan Was an Explorer. Chuck Yeager Was an Explorer. You Guys Have a Fucking Camera on Your Face.’ 

Jason Jones of The Daily Show talks to Glassholes who believe they’re being wrongly persecuted.

Update: YouTube version, for those of you outside the U.S. who can’t get the Comedy Central version to work.

iOS 8 Beta 2 

Lots of improvements and fixes. Apple released a second developer beta of OS X Yosemite too. From what I’ve seen so far in my testing, both betas are in good shape.

The Talk Show: ‘Doctoring the Ball’ 

Special guest Guy English joins me to talk about a slew of stuff from WWDC 2014.

An Introduction to HyperCard 

1987 episode of The Computer Chronicles, featuring Bill Atkinson and Dan Winkler demonstrating and explaining the then-new HyperCard. I was going to joke about how old this looks, but realized I’m using a keyboard from that era.

Via Lessien, who notes that there’s still a place in the world for a tool like HyperCard.

‘What You Hoped Tony Gwynn Was Like, He Was Like’ 

Keith Olbermann on the great Tony Gwynn.

Year One 

Yours truly, writing on the Vesper Blog:

But before we get too carried away thinking about what we’re working on for Vesper’s second year, we thought we’d take a moment and raise a glass to celebrate the first one — and to thank all of you for supporting our work. So until we sober up, Vesper is available for just $2.99.

If you’re holding off on trying Vesper until we have multiple clients shipping, that’s perfectly reasonable. But there’s never going to be a better time than now to buy Vesper for iPhone. Someday, you’re going to want to be able to say, “I’ve been using Vesper since back when it was only for iPhone.”

The Late Tony Gwynn’s Incredible Hitting Numbers 

Jayson Stark on Tony Gwynn, who died of cancer last night at age 54:

• Gwynn had six straight seasons (and eight altogether) in which he struck out fewer than 20 times. Did you know there were 97 hitters in the big leagues who whiffed at least 20 times just last month?

• Finally, what does it mean to have piled up a .338 batting average over a 20-year career, over 9,288 at-bats? It means Tony Gwynn would have had to go 0-for-his-next-1,183 to get his average to fall under .300 (and even then, it would have “plummeted” to a mere .29997). We kid you not.

So sad. Gwynn was everything: an amazing athlete, great competitor, and a nice guy.

‘That’s Not a Platitude’ 

Jony Ive, in an interview with The New York Times:

The core creative community is very small but is also very close — there’s been changes there, but the change isn’t perhaps as dramatic as you might assume.

One of the values of things I learned absolutely directly from Steve was the whole issue of focus. What are we focusing on: focus on product. I wish I could do a better job in communicating this truth here, which is when you really are focused on the product, that’s not a platitude. When that truly is your reason for coming into the studio, is just to try to make the very best product you can, when that is exclusive of everything else, it’s remarkable how insignificant or unimportant a lot of other stuff becomes. Titles or organizational structures, that’s not the lens through which we see our peers.

The Buckyball 

Erik van Rheenen, writing for Mental Floss:

But the ball most commonly seen today — the one with black and white pentagons and hexagons — was first designed in the 1960s by architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, whose forte was designing buildings using minimal materials. Previously, leather soccer balls consisted of 18 sections stitched together: six panels of three strips apiece. The soccer ball Fuller designed stitched together 20 hexagons with 12 pentagons for a total of 32 panels. Its official shape is a spherical polyhedron, but the design was nicknamed the “buckyball.”

Can’t believe that great NYT piece on the history of World Cup ball design didn’t mention that it was Fuller who designed that iconic pentagon/hexagon ball.

Update: Perhaps the reason they didn’t mention Fuller is that he didn’t actually design the soccer ball, Adidas simply took inspiration from Fuller’s general buckyball structural concept?

The World’s Ball 

Great NYT visual guide to the evolution of the ball used in the World Cup. That 1970 ball is the best — so iconic. I had no idea that it was designed to look better on black and white TVs.

Microsoft Azure Mobile Services 

My thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Azure Mobile Services.

Azure Mobile Services provides a scalable and secure backend that can be used to power apps on any platform — iOS, Android, Mac, even Windows. With Mobile Services, it’s easy to store app data in the cloud, authenticate users, and send push notifications. Built from the ground up to be flexible and extensible, Mobile Services lets you code your app backend in C# or Node.js. You can save app data either on-premises or in Azure SQL database, blob storage, table storage, and MongoDB .

Some of you might think it’s odd to see Microsoft sponsoring Daring Fireball, but there’s nothing funny about it. I’ve got first-hand experience with Azure Mobile Services — it’s a fantastic backend for iOS and Mac apps.

Average Kindle ‘Mayday Button’ Response Time Is Under 10 Seconds 


Eight months ago, Amazon launched the Mayday button, connecting you to live, on-device tech support 24x7, 365 days a year — for free. Today, Amazon announced that the Mayday button is now the most popular way for Fire HDX customers to contact customer service, and the average response time is just 9.75 seconds.

“When we set out to invent the Mayday button, we wanted to revolutionize tech support — and we’re happy to report it’s working!” said Scott Brown, Director, Amazon Customer Service. “75% of customer contacts for Fire HDX now come via the Mayday button. Even as the Mayday button has grown to become the most popular way for customers to ask questions, the team’s been able to beat the response time goal of 15 seconds or less — our average is just 9.75 seconds.”

That’s truly remarkable, and a unique Amazon advantage. No one else has anything like this.

Like Members of the Family 

I named my black iPhone 5 “TMA-1”, and the PowerBook G4 about which I wrote this review was, of course, named “Joker”.

Peak PC 

Jean-Louis Gasseé on the flattening of PC sales:

Intel doesn’t have the luxury of leaving their game — they only have one. But I can’t imagine that Brian Krzanich, Intel’s new CEO, will look at Peak PC and be content with the prospect of increasingly difficult x86 iterations. There have been many discussions of Intel finally taking the plunge and becoming a “foundry” for someone else’s ARM-based SoC (System On a Chip) designs instead of owning x86 design and manufacturing decisions. Peak PC will force Intel CEO’s hand.

How Apple TV Might Disrupt Console Gaming 

Ben Thompson:

The net result is that traditional consoles are about as far removed from average consumers as they could be. There is clearly a core gamer market, and Sony and Microsoft are fighting ferociously for it, but no one is growing the pie. I think there is an opening.

Imagine a new TV product, with two models:

  • $99 with a full set of entertainment options, but no gaming
  • $179 with a full set of entertainment options, plus gaming

Thompson is overthinking it with the “two models” thing. I think there’ll be just one model, $99 (or even less). The only upsell for gaming would be optional controllers (including any of the third-party controllers iOS already supports).

Games are just apps. There’s no more reason to make a games/no-games split with Apple TV than there is to make an apps/no-apps distinction with the iPhone. Maybe you think you’re buying Apple TV just to watch movies and TV shows, but the App Store is right there waiting for you. Just like how many people bought the iPhone thinking they’d only use the built-in apps (Phone, Messages, Safari, Music, Email) and now have dozens and dozens of third-party apps.

Thompson’s basic premise is sound though. The A7 will be a year old this fall; I bet Apple could put it in a $99 Apple TV. Combine that with the Metal API for graphics, and Apple TV becomes a compelling device for games.

Update: Thompson himself, one year ago:

Imagine a $99 (or $129) “console” with an optional $49 controller and an App Store. That’s a lot of potential escapism, and a lot of user attention.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S First Look 

Joanna Stern:

The Tab S shares software DNA with the GS5, too. You get Samsung’s usual Android 4.4 trimmings, including the tablet trick that lets you put two apps side by side. (Samsung will also sell a $99 Bluetooth dock to turn the tablet into a laptop.) However, the amount of preloaded third-party and Samsung apps littering the homescreen is reaching unbearable levels. In fact, Samsung tells me, there are even more preloaded apps on this device because of the added promotional deals with LinkedIn, Marvel, etc.

Interesting to me that Samsung’s tablets continue to favor landscape as the default orientation.

But Samsung’s new SideSync 3.0 app seems worth keeping — at least if you have a Galaxy S5 phone. When both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can remotely navigate the phone via the tablet’s screen, transfer files between devices, access all your phone apps, and even text and talk on the phone.

Watch Stern’s video to see how weird the interface for this feature is. When you invoke it, you get a virtual Galaxy S phone on the tablet screen. The idea is cool, but compared to the Continuity features Apple announced at WWDC last week, it seems clunky and narrowly focused.

Apple’s Game 

Sean Heber:

This week Apple introduced app extensions into both iOS and OSX. When a 3rd party app wants a particular kind of service (such as photo editing), iOS presents the user with a list of other apps on their device that have the desired extension. Once the user picks one, the extension appears right within the 3rd party app so the user can use it without switching out of their current flow. This allows apps to interoperate in a controlled manner without sacrificing security, privacy, and convenience for the user.

One of the interesting things about this is how the underlying mechanisms actually work — the extensions themselves are entirely self-contained apps in their own right. They are walled off from all other apps — including their own parent app for the most part — and are given a limited view of the outside world that mostly only includes the data necessary to do the type of task the extension was designed to fulfill. This means that the extension apps are, essentially, entirely self-contained. As far as users are concerned, their flow is relatively uninterrupted and they’re able to do what they want when they want without iOS standing too much in the way. It should just work.

Heber goes on to speculate, intriguingly, on what these changes might mean for Apple TV and gaming. In short, don’t think new third App Store in addition to iOS and Mac, think instead Apple TV as another device for the iOS App Store and existing iOS games.

The Problem With World Cup Referees 

Joshua Robinson, reporting for the WSJ:

The world’s most popular sporting event uses a more democratic than meritocratic process for choosing referees. While the World Cup’s 32 teams must play their way into the tournament through a grueling two-year qualifying process, FIFA, the sport’s governing body, pulls referees from more than 40 countries out of a sense of fairness to all of its member associations. It is similar to how basketball’s world governing body plucks officials from around the world to work the Olympic tournament.

It’s a contrast from the meritocracy that determines who officiates the postseason for major U.S. sports.

So even if they’re not crooked, they’re in over their heads.

How to Tame Twitter’s Annoying Mobile Notifications 

After a long, long stretch of not really even looking at Twitter’s first-party iPhone app, I gave it a shot earlier this week. With a fresh installation and default settings, I was simply astounded by the barrage of notifications the app was getting, prompting this rant on Twitter.

This piece by Christina Warren for Mashable shows how to control these notifications:

So what’s the solution? You might think — just disable Twitter notifications on Android or iOS. But that means you can’t get alerts you might want — like a direct message or updates from a specific user. Fortunately, it is possible to refine those alerts within Twitter’s settings. Unfortunately, accessing those settings isn’t as straightforward as you might hope.

I consider myself a savvy user who is familiar with the various design patterns for getting to “Settings” in iPhone apps. I spent 15 minutes trying to find settings like these in Twitter for iPhone, and gave up, because I couldn’t find them.

2014 iPhone Photography Award Winners 

Not merely great iPhone photos — great photos, period.

Fixed Soccer Matches Cast Shadow Over World Cup 

Declan Hill and Jeré Longman, reporting for the NYT:

A soccer referee named Ibrahim Chaibou walked into a bank in a small South African city carrying a bag filled with as much as $100,000 in $100 bills, according to another referee traveling with him. The deposit was so large that a bank employee gave Mr. Chaibou a gift of commemorative coins bearing the likeness of Nelson Mandela.

Later that night in May 2010, Mr. Chaibou refereed an exhibition match between South Africa and Guatemala in preparation for the World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event. Even to the casual fan, his calls were suspicious — he called two penalties for hand balls even though the ball went nowhere near the players’ hands.

Some dubious calls in today’s Brazil-Croatia World Cup opener.


With love and warm thoughts for the Meyer family.

‘You Forget to Lift Your Head Up to Appreciate What You Have.’ 

Jason Kottke:

Sometimes parents tend to get caught up in the minutia of parenthood: the logistics of getting from one place to another without losing your shit, the weary deflection of the 34th “why?” question of the afternoon, and all the rest. At least, I know I do. You forget to lift your head up to appreciate what you have. Author Elizabeth Stone once wrote that having kids was deciding to “have your heart go walking around outside your body”. Steve Jobs put it similarly: your children are “your heart running around outside your body”. That’s the truest sentiment I’ve ever read about parenting; it feels exactly like that to me. Reading Eric’s writing about Rebecca, a girl so close in age to both my kids, has affected me greatly. That could be me. My kids suffering. My heart, broken and dying. Imagining one of them...I can’t even do it, the tears come hard fast, washing away any such thoughts.

The Color Purple 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

All the caring and all the medicine, all the prayers and all the love from friends and strangers, could not stop this cancer from claiming this child. Caught between horror and hope, all of us watched as the Meyer family fought to save their beautiful middle child’s life. They did everything that could be done to save Rebecca. Then they did more.

Now it’s time to do something for them. Some little, heartbreakingly inadequate thing for a girl who got dragged into a fight no one could win, and stayed a pure, brave spirit to the end.

I met Rebecca Meyer two years ago — our families ran into each other by coincidence on vacation at Disney World. I remember a very happy and delightful little girl.

Rebecca’s favorite color was purple, and so today DF goes purple, for Rebecca and for her family.

Facebook to Use Web Browsing History for Ad Targeting 

Cotton Delo, reporting for Advertising Age:

But what Facebook is now enabling is far more expansive in terms how it uses data for ad targeting. In a move bound to stir up some controversy given the company’s reach and scale, the social network will not be honoring the do-not-track setting on web browsers. A Facebook spokesman said that’s “because currently there is no industry consensus.” Social-media competitors Twitter and Pinterest do honor the setting. Google and Yahoo do not.

“Google does it” is not exactly a badge of honor, privacy-wise. More and more, the entire advertising industry is turning into a threat to privacy. Advertising should be about attention, not privacy.

Facebook will honor the settings to limit ad tracking on iOS and Android devices, however.

On iOS, they have no choice. Apple’s privacy controls are in the hands of the user, not the developer or advertiser. That’s why the whole “Do Not Track” thing for websites is a joke. It’s like putting a “Do Not Burgle” sign on your front door versus installing a lock. (And even if you do install a lock, you can’t trust Google not to pick it.)

Aaron Hillegass: ‘iOS Developers Need to Know Objective-C’ 

Aaron Hillegass, who I think is universally regarded as the preeminent teacher of Cocoa:

When Apple announced Swift, I heard a few people say “Hurray! Now I can be an iOS developer without learning Objective-C!” I have three messages for these people:

  • If you want to be an iOS developer, you will still need to know Objective-C.
  • Objective-C is easier to learn than Swift.
  • Once you know Objective-C, it will be easy to learn Swift.

Before I proceed, let me preface this with a confession of love for Swift. The syntax is lovely. The Swift compiler will catch so many errors for us; I’m certain that when everyone is coding in Swift the reliability of apps will improve considerably. The enum construct is gorgeous. Swift is a major step forward for the entire iOS and Mac OS X ecosystem. But…

Points 1 and 3 I agree with. Point 2, I’m not so sure about. But the real question is time. I don’t think anyone would dispute that a serious Mac or iOS developer needs to know Objective-C today. But what about a year from now? Two years? Five? At some point, the answer to “Do I need to learn Objective-C?” will be “No.” I don’t know when that will be.

I’m bullish on Swift’s uptake not because I think it will appeal to new developers (although eventually I think that will help too), but because I think it appeals to the huge base of developers who already know Objective-C and Apple’s frameworks.

Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘The Lego Movie’ and Other Warner Movies 

David Streitfeld, writing for the NYT:

The Everything Store is shrinking again. Amazon customers who want to order forthcoming Warner Home Video features, including The Lego Movie, 300: Rise of an Empire, Winter’s Tale and Transcendence, are finding it impossible to do so.

The retailer’s refusal to sell the movies is part of its effort to gain leverage in yet another major confrontation with a supplier to become public in recent weeks.

Hardball tactics. Seems risky to me — won’t a lot of people just pre-order these movies somewhere else instead?

Scott Hurff on the Improvements to Messages in iOS 8 

Scott Hurff:

To me, this is the marquee improvement of iMessage, and the attention to detail blows me away. Not only is Apple making liberal use of new gestures here, it’s also embracing the radial menu effect while creating a new native iOS design pattern. Whoa.

Those radial menus are pretty cool (and seem designed for one-handed use). I also really like the new recent photo picker when you just tap the Camera button.

A Tale of Two Apples 

Jason Snell:

Criticism of post-Jobs Apple tends to run in one of two directions (unless you’re the author of Haunted Empire and want to have it both ways): Either Apple is doomed because it’s slavishly following the out-of-date playbook of its former CEO, or it’s doomed because it’s not following the playbook of its genius former CEO.

As a close observer of Apple before, during, and after Jobs’s tenure, I can tell you that the Apple of today is not playing by the Steve Jobs playbook — except for the bit that demanded that everyone stop asking what Steve would do. Tim Cook and his lieutenants are immersed in the Apple culture created by Steve Jobs, of course, but they’re applying that culture to an ever-changing world — rather than going to the 2011 playbook.

Astute piece, all the more remarkable given that Snell wrote it before WWDC.

Red Sweater T-Shirts 

Now available at Buy Olympia:

Susie Ghahremani has illustrated an adorable bear wearing a charming red sweater for Red Sweater Software.

This bear has opted to not wear his mittens and socks for now, but they are there, just in case.

Jalkut was wearing one of these last week at WWDC, and it’s pretty sweet. Just ordered mine.

Matt Drance on WWDC 2014 and Apple 

Matt Drance:

That process began some time before October 5, 2011. It ended on June 2, 2014. Josh Topolsky kind of said it, Ben Thompson kind of said it, so let’s just say it:

This wouldn’t have happened under Steve Jobs.

The “Continuity” suite of features says more to me than anything else announced last week, naturally blurring the line between Mac and iPhone and iPad while still accepting each product for what it is. Recent updates to OS X seemed intent on forcing iOS down the Mac’s throat. Last week, for what felt like the first time ever, the two were on equal footing: an Apple device is an Apple device is an Apple device. This shot of creativity, connectivity, integration, and inclusion points to drastic change from within. When I wrote “Regime Change” in 2012, nearly everyone assumed the title referred to the fall of Scott Forstall. It in fact referred to the rise of Tim Cook.

Complete agreement.

Google Demotes Chrome Feature That Would Hide Full Web Addresses 

Stephen Shankland, writing for CNet:

Google apparently has taken one step back from its “origin chip” plan that would hide the full addresses for Web sites that people visit with its Chrome browser.

On Tuesday, Chrome team member Peter Kasting demoted one aspect of the address-hiding feature from a top priority to a third-level priority. “The origin chip work is backburnered,” he said in his explanation on Google’s issue-tracking site.

The new Safari on OS X Yosemite does pretty much the same thing. I wonder if Apple is going to stick with it. I have mixed feelings about it — I think it’s probably better for most users to just show the domain name, but I’d like an option to restore the old behavior.

Google Buys Skynet 


Google Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement to buy Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash, subject to adjustments.

Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in.

I’m sorry, Skybox, not Skynet. My bad.

Apple’s Cement Conference 

Horace Dediu:

So this was the way I saw WWDC 2014. A cement conference cheered by cement enthusiasts but leaving Architectural Digest writers asking what the fuss was all about.

Swift’s Ascendance 

Paul Krill, writing for InfoWorld:

Both the Tiobe and PyPL indexes already have plans to accommodate Swift. “A preview shows that its first rating will probably in the top 20 by [the July Tiobe index]. Swift is a natural and long-awaited next step of Apple,” this month’s Tiobe index description said. The monthly index, which gauges language popularity via a formula assessing searches on languages on sites like Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, has shown Swift’s predecessor, the Objective-C language, ranking not far behind C and Java in language popularity in recent years.

If you went back in time to 2004 and told people that Objective-C would rank “not far behind C and Java in language popularity” in 2014, I don’t know that you’d find anyone who would believe you, even within Apple. iOS has proven to be almost unfathomably popular.

But the thing is, Objective-C’s popularity has nothing to do with Objective-C as a language, in and of itself. If anything, the nature of Objective-C has almost certainly hampered its popularity. It’s all about Apple’s platforms and frameworks, for which, until last week, Objective-C was the one true language. Now that Swift is here, and is a first-class peer to Objective-C for all of Apple’s frameworks and platforms, I think Swift will rise in popularity with amazing speed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swift ahead of Objective-C on these indexes by this time next year.

‘Do Your Work, Your Best Work’ 

Seth Godin:

If you try to delight the undelightable, you’ve made yourself miserable for no reason.

How It Works 

Mark Gurman:

While Apple did, indeed, announce a health tracking application and an API for partners to hook into, the interface did not match up with our screenshots from March. The reason, a source confirmed this week, is that Apple revamped the user-interface and dropped the “Healthbook” name late in development due to the leak. While the icon and interface is new, the entirety of the earlier reported functionality and in-app graphics are identical. [...]

As you can see, the icons for each data point are identical in our March screenshots to the ones in the current iOS 8 build. The only change is the overall interface, and many Apple employees that I have spoken to agree that the original Healthbook UI is far superior in usability than the current look.

Let me get this straight. Apple completely scrapped a superior interface to Health because Mark Gurman published screenshots back in March. That is to say, Apple cared more about the surprise of revealing a never-before-seen Health interface during the keynote than they cared about the actual design quality of an interface that will be used by hundreds of millions of iOS users for years to come.

It’s public knowledge that Jony Ive now oversees all software design at Apple. So in this scenario, we are to believe that Ive is so petty, juvenile, and impetuous — and more concerned with secrecy than design quality — that he either approved or himself demanded a radical design overhaul not because it was better but merely to have something un-leaked to show on stage last week. This, for a feature which was deemed worthy of less than three minutes of keynote time (68:30 to 71:20). Jony Ive.

OK, sure.

(Another possibility: Health’s design was far from finished in March, and the intervening months of Apple’s iterative design process resulted in what we saw last week. Designs within Apple are never born finished, and often, if not usually, change radically before shipping. And though Mark Gurman is prodigiously talented, his youth has led him into the solipsistic trap of thinking that his personal perception of Apple — as a guardian of secrets — accurately reflects Apple’s actual institutional priorities, when in fact nothing, not even secrecy, trumps design in the halls of Cupertino.

But what do I know?)

Intrigue Regarding Katie Cotton’s Successor 

John Paczkowski:

And though there are at least two well-qualified internal candidates for the job — comms veterans Steve Dowling and Nat Kerris — Apple is also looking outside the company for Cotton’s replacement. Sources in position to know tell Code/red that CEO Tim Cook is overseeing the search, aiming to find some high-profile external candidates for consideration. And he’s paying particular attention to those he believes could put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts. Hardly surprising, as VP of comms is a position that reports directly to Cook, and he obviously wants to put the best person he possibly can into it. But interesting nonetheless, as passing over a pair of veterans groomed under company co-founder Steve Jobs for an outsider could herald a big shift in Apple’s PR strategy and its comms team.

I find this intriguing on two levels:

  1. Who from the outside might Tim Cook bring in, and what changes would they make?

  2. Who is Paczkowski’s source for this story? Surely there are only a few people in a position to know this. Either Tim Cook wanted this leaked, or, someone leaked this against Cook’s wishes. Either way it’s intriguing. The only reason I can think of why Cook would want this leaked is to cast a wider net for candidates — to spread the word that he’s at least considering hiring an outsider. Or, I suppose, to preempt the inevitable gossip once he does start interviewing candidates.

Update: A third level that I’ve been thinking about all day, succinctly expressed by Daniel Jalkut on Twitter:

@gruber Isn’t it also intriguing that after so many years of top-level service, Cotton didn’t stick around to hire a successor?

Or that she left before WWDC, instead of after.

‘The Next Five Years’ 

Justin Williams:

And then in two hours, Apple shut me up. They pretty much offered a solution for every single thing I have bitched about over the past five years. Extensions, CloudKit, a new iTunes Connect. And Swift, an entirely new programming language that will likely power the future of iOS and OS X development for years to come.

I came into this years WWDC fairly mellow to what would or wouldn’t be announced. There wasn’t any anticipation or excitement the night before. Just a standard amount of curiosity. After the Keynote, I can’t remember being that excited since the announcement of the original iPhone. They blew the roof off Moscone.

iOS 8 Uses Randomized MAC Addresses When Scanning for Wi-Fi Networks 

MAC addresses are used by both marketers and government agencies to track device location — this is a nice win for privacy.

iOS 8, WebKit Performance, and XPC 

Mike Beasley, writing for 9to5Mac:

When iOS 7 launched, developers discovered that their apps with built-in web browsers were unable to achieve the same level of JavaScript performance as the stock Safari app. This was because Apple restricted use of its improved Nitro JavaScript engine to its own app, leaving third-parties with a slower version.

As of iOS 8, however, it seems that decision has been reversed. All apps will now be able to use the same improved JavaScript engine that powers Safari. That means Google’s Chrome browser on iOS will now be just as quick as Safari, as will the pop-up browsers embedded in apps like Twitter and Facebook.

The Nitro JavaScript compiler appeared all the way back in iOS 4.3 in 2011, and there has been a split in performance between Mobile Safari and third-party apps ever since. As I wrote then:

The real answer is about security. Perhaps the biggest reason for Nitro’s performance improvements over WebKit’s previous JavaScript engine is the use of a JIT — “Just-In-Time” compilation. Here’s Wikipedia’s page on JIT. A JIT requires the ability to mark memory pages in RAM as executable, but, iOS, as a security measure, does not allow pages in memory to be marked as executable. This is a significant and serious security policy. Most modern operating systems do allow pages in memory to be marked as executable — including Mac OS X, Windows, and (I believe) Android. iOS 4.3 makes an exception to this policy, but the exception is specifically limited to Mobile Safari.

What’s new in iOS 8 is not that a “decision has been reversed”. It’s that inter-application communication APIs — XPC — have been greatly improved. This is why we’ve got all sorts of new stuff: third-party keyboards, sharing extensions, photo filters, and a full-speed embedded WebKit. All very different, all enabled by XPC.

In the old days, things like this were insecure and dangerous: plug-ins executed inside applications. A bug in a plug-in could crash your app or create security vulnerabilities. iOS never allowed that. Now, with improved XPC, we have extensions that run as separate sandboxed processes. This isn’t something Apple tackled in the past year alone — they’ve been working on iOS XPC for years, but only now in iOS 8 is it ready to be opened to third-party apps.

Scott Hanselman on URL Shortener Redirects 

Scott Hanselman:

I saw a URL today on Twitter to an article on It was a custom short URL - but since I was visiting it via Twitter, it was wrapped with Twitter’s URL, so I really started at

When I visited it for the FIRST time, I got this lovely HTTP interaction. That’s SEVEN HTTP 301s, count them, 7, before I get to the destination page.

Slate is effectively doing the opposite of what I’ve done with DF short URLs.

(Via Michael Tsai.)


My thanks to Pixate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixate has created a new mobile interaction design tool that is now in private beta. It lets you visually design interactive interfaces and animations that run natively on your device, without any code or complexity.

Follow the link and check out the short demo video they’ve created. It’s really, really impressive. It lets designers create the feel of an interface, instead of just the look of it. Seriously, just watch the video, then sign up for early access at

Brent Simmons on Swift 

Brent Simmons:

I’m lucky. I’ve just started a Mac app, and I plan to write it in Swift.

I’ve heard other developers say they want to wait about a year, and I totally understand that attitude. It’s reasonable to assume that Swift code written today may not compile in a few months — it’s a work in progress.

But my thinking is this: if I start using it now, I can provide feedback, and that feedback will help shape the programming language that I’m likely to use for the rest of my career. Maybe I’ll have a ton of feedback, and maybe I’ll have none — but I’d sure hate to have missed my chance to help.

We came into WWDC thinking we might have to approach Vesper for Mac with a new UI design sensibility. We came out thinking we should write it with a new programming language.

Debug: WWDC 2014 Developer Roundtable 

Speaking of WWDC podcasts, the new episode of Debug is just terrific:

Matt Drance of Bookhouse Software, Ryan Nielsen of Tumult, Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater, and Jason Snell of Macworld join Guy and Rene to talk about Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote — the Swift programming language, Extensibility, CloudKit, Metal, and more.

The Talk Show: Live From WWDC 2014 

Scott Simpson on stage at the show.

Notifications as the Interface 

Mat Honan:

Interactive notifications will spur all sorts of new behaviors. (And yes, Android already has interactive notifications, but the ones in iOS 8 look to go beyond what KitKat can do.) Some of these will be simple, like the ability to reply to an email or text message. But they’re powerful in that you can do this without quitting whatever you’re already doing. And this interactivity is not just limited to system apps. Third-party developers can take advantage of this new capability as well, so you could comment on something on Facebook, respond to a tweet, or even check in on Foursquare. But others are going to be radical, stuff we haven’t imagined yet. Once developers begin to really harness what interactive notifications can do in iOS 8 — and they will — it’s going to cause one of the most radical changes since third-party apps. With the advent of iOS 8, notifications are the new interface frontier.

Remember document-centric computing? OpenDoc from Apple, and OLE from Microsoft? That never took hold because documents themselves have become less relevant. Notification-centric computing though, that sounds good to me. The big difference is that document-centric computing was a replacement for app-centric computing; notification-centric computing goes hand-in-hand with app-centric computing. Use the full app for big things; use the interactive notification for quick things.

Chris Lattner on Swift and Playgrounds 

Chris Lattner:

I started work on the Swift Programming Language (wikipedia) in July of 2010. I implemented much of the basic language structure, with only a few people knowing of its existence. A few other (amazing) people started contributing in earnest late in 2011, and it became a major focus for the Apple Developer Tools group in July 2013.

The Swift language is the product of tireless effort from a team of language experts, documentation gurus, compiler optimization ninjas, and an incredibly important internal dogfooding group who provided feedback to help refine and battle-test ideas. Of course, it also greatly benefited from the experiences hard-won by many other languages in the field, drawing ideas from Objective-C, Rust, Haskell, Ruby, Python, C#, CLU, and far too many others to list.

The Xcode Playgrounds feature and REPL were a personal passion of mine, to make programming more interactive and approachable. The Xcode and LLDB teams have done a phenomenal job turning crazy ideas into something truly great. Playgrounds were heavily influenced by Bret Victor’s ideas, by Light Table and by many other interactive systems. I hope that by making programming more approachable and fun, we’ll appeal to the next generation of programmers and to help redefine how Computer Science is taught.

Still amazed that Apple managed to keep Swift secret until its unveiling during Monday’s keynote.

Apple Lifts the WWDC NDA 

Ole Begemann:

I am not a lawyer, but if I am reading this correctly, it means that beta version of the operating systems and SDKs are still under NDA, but Apple allows developers to discuss new APIs and features that have been introduced at WWDC in public. That should cover pretty much all the new stuff in iOS 8, Yosemite and the Developer Tools.

Apple has gotten a lot more open this week, and attendees (and my fellow members of the media) noticed and appreciated it.

Digesting WWDC: Cloudy 

Benedict Evans:

So edit a photo and the edits are on all your devices, run out of room and your photos stay on the cloud but all but the previews are cleared off your phone, tap a phone number on a web page on your Mac and your phone dials it. But none of this says ‘CLOUD™’ and none of it is done in a web browser. Web browsers are for web pages, not for apps. Hence one could suggest that Apple loves the cloud, just not the web (or, not URLs). This is obviously a contrast with Google, which has pretty much the opposite approach. For Google, devices are dumb glass and the intelligence is in the cloud, but for Apple the cloud is just dumb storage and the device is the place for intelligence.


Yukari Iwatani Kane, about ten minutes after Monday’s keynote ended:

Well... that may have been the most tepid response I’ve seen to a #wwdc keynote in the last six years.

At this point Kane is starting to come across as a kook, detached from reality, living either in a bunker or in a parallel universe.

Baseball Icon Don Zimmer Dies at 83 

Marty Noble, writing for MLB:

He had the jowls of Dizzy Gillespie, the chins of Alfred Hitchcock and the forearms of Olive Oyl’s favorite sailor man. For most of his 83 years, he had a haircut that required minimum maintenance and a quick, disarming smile that significantly widened his face and belied his sense of purpose. Well before his time came, he had developed a silhouette like no other in the game. If nothing else, Don Zimmer was distinctive, a ball of distinction, you might say — no corners, no angles, no edges. So round he almost was spherical.

Update: An amazing baseball life, indeed.

Misunderstanding Swift 

Matt Baxter-Reynolds, writing for ZDNet:

When I first heard about Swift I was pleased as I assumed that Apple would look to solve the key problem faced by mobile developers — specifically that there is little overlap between developer toolsets making cross-platform mobile development extremely difficult. [...]

What software developers need is familiar tooling that builds on open standards and well-understood approaches. What they don’t need is a bunch of know-better-than-thou engineers sitting in their ivory tower coming up with something that feels almost deliberately, intentionally different just because they think they know best.

When you look at Swift, that is what you get. Something that has been designed in a way that shows no empathy at all for what the greater community of software developers actually need. It looks to serve only Apple developers, and even then it doesn’t do it in a way that actually helps Apple developers be part of the broader and richer community outside of the Apple bubble.

He’s right that Swift is geared specifically to developers writing apps for Apple platforms, but deeply misunderstands Apple’s motivations and needs. Apple succeeds by creating great products. To be better necessarily means to be different.

(Via Marco Tabini.)

Yosemite Version of Safari Only Shows the Domain Name in Address Field 

David Yanofsky, writing for Quartz:

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference today the company rolled out a new look for its web browser, Safari. Apple executives didn’t point it out, but sharp-eyed observers have noticed one significant change to the interface. The address bar truncates URLs to the domain-name level.

This means that a URL such as will show up as

Seems like something that ought to be a preference setting. (Maybe it already is, but if so I haven’t found it.)

Matthew Panzarino on WWDC 

Good rundown of yesterday’s announcements:

Apple is also expanding its back-end support by integrating its recent acquisition, TestFlight, right into the tools that its developers are offered. TestFlight will allow developers to offer 1,000 users beta versions of its apps. That’s 1,000 individual users, not devices – an important distinction that any developer who has ever beta tested its apps will appreciate.

Previously, a developer could only provision 100 devices across all users. This extended beta testing suite will lead to better, more bug-free apps.

So much to digest in one day.

Zoom Replaced by Full Screen Mode in Yosemite 

From Apple’s Yosemite design page:

Take the red, yellow, and green “stoplights” in the corner of every app window. Not only have we streamlined their look, but we’ve also updated their functions. Close, minimize, and maximize are now close, minimize, and full screen, eliminating the extra full-screen control and consolidating the window controls in one place.

I seldom use full screen mode, but I almost never use those zoom buttons, so this change makes sense. It’s what most people probably expect to happen.

Update: The old zoom is still there, if you Option-click the green button or double-click on the window title bar, like we used to do with window-shading way back when.

Tomorrow’s Live Audience Episode of The Talk Show From WWDC 

I just put another 75 tickets on sale for tomorrow’s show, where I’ll be talking to special guests John Siracusa, Casey Liss, Marco Arment, and Scott Simpson. They’re going to go fast — sorry we couldn’t find a bigger event space. Update: Sold out again.

Also: We have a last minute opening for a sponsorship for the open bar at the event. We’ll make sure everyone knows they’re drinking on your dime, and I’ll thank you heartily from the stage. We’ll also be sure you and your team get into the show. If you’re interested and can pull the trigger quickly, get in touch. Update: OK, all set on this front too.

Safari to Include DuckDuckGo as a Built-In Search Option 


Safari now gives you more control over your privacy on the web. You can open one Safari window in Private Browsing mode — which doesn’t save your browsing history — while keeping others in regular browsing mode. So while you do your online banking privately in one window, your browsing history is still being saved while you surf in another. You can also now search the web using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you.

Update: Here’s the official announcement from DuckDuckGo.

‘Don’t Be Google’ 

In the real world, outside the technology sphere, Google is digging itself into a deep hole branding-wise. “Don’t be evil” is now a punchline.

The Trick That Makes Google’s Self-Driving Cars Work 

Alexis Madrigal:

Google’s self-driving cars can tour you around the streets of Mountain View, California.

I know this. I rode in one this week. I saw the car’s human operator take his hands from the wheel and the computer assume control. “Autodriving,” said a woman’s voice, and just like that, the car was operating autonomously, changing lanes, obeying traffic lights, monitoring cyclists and pedestrians, making lefts. Even the way the car accelerated out of turns felt right. [...]

But there’s a catch. 

Today, you could not take a Google car, set it down in Akron or Orlando or Oakland and expect it to perform as well as it does in Silicon Valley.

Here’s why: Google has created a virtual track out of Mountain View. 

This is what I mean about these cars being a concept, not a real product. These cars are only real in the sense that a ride at Disney World is real. They’ve built a very clever Mountain View-size 25 MPH theme park attraction. Google could well be the company that eventually does make real self-driving cars, but they aren’t today. Who is to say that the cars they do have today are not to self-driving cars what the Microsoft Surface (the table-size one, not today’s tablets) was to touchscreen computing?

Show me something produced at mass market scale and price, which people can and want to buy.

Hail Mario 

Kyle Starr, writing on his new The State of Gaming site rebranded site, Zero Counts:

Mario Kart 8 proves that Nintendo is deeply in tune with generational gaming gaps. As our Link to the Past lover so eloquently put it, the ease of entry to Mario Kart 8 iterates on the tried and true idiom “it’s like riding a bike” with an updated “it’s like playing Mario Kart.”

From the first race to the last, we would chuckle at my fiancée’s incessant need to comment on how gorgeous the levels looked. Funny at first, I couldn’t help but look closer at the imagery in the courses. It became evident that Nintendo is unabashedly gunning for Disney-level aesthetics; a tactic to win over most demographics.

We got our copy yesterday, and it’s so fun it made me not want to leave for WWDC today. (I’m worried my son is going to surpass me while I’m out of town.) The game is fun, familiar-yet-novel, and indeed beautiful. Oh, and the music is great.

Kara Swisher on Katie Cotton 

Kara Swisher:

Was she vocal when she did not like something we did? And how. (So are Microsoft’s Frank Shaw and Google’s Rachel Whetstone, both of whom can throw a pretty decent uppercut when they are not happy with something we have written.)

So what?

That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business, even if she was harder driving and, because of that, more successful than most. As she once told me when we talked about her outsize reputation in the tech press: “I am not here to make friends with reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products.”

Right. Most of the complaints about Cotton from commentators boil down to Cotton having been really good at her job.

So let’s let her retire with some level of class, no matter how many bare-knuckled bouts were had. Ironically, Cotton leaves just ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where there are likely to be some big announcements that she would have been central to carefully and meticulously rolling out.

Interesting. I’d been wondering whether WWDC would be her last hurrah.

A Decade’s Worth of WWDC Keynotes 

Harry McCracken, on his newly-relaunched Technologizer:

Once a year, Apple kicks off its World Wide Developer Conference with a keynote presentation, such as the one coming up on Monday, which I’ll be covering for Technologizer. Many people seem to think they’re famous for involving Apple dazzling consumers with an array of new products, to the rapturous approval of everybody involved.

Which is weird, because that’s not the point at all.

Sure, consumers are watching, and Apple hopes that they’re dazzled. But WWDC keynotes are usually the least gadget-centric events which Apple holds, and even though people who covet new Apple products pay close attention, they’re not the primary audience.