The Love Era ★
This is the age of writing iOS apps for love. […]
You the indie developer could become the next Flexibits. Could.
But almost certainly not. Okay — not.
What’s more likely is that you’ll find yourself working on a
Mobile Experience for a Big National Brand(tm) and doing the apps
you want to write in your spare time.
If there’s a way out of despair, it’s in changing our
There is so much that could and should and will be said about this. But the bottom line is that indie development for iOS and the App Store just hasn’t worked out the way we thought it would. We thought — and hoped — it would be like the indie Mac app market, only bigger. But it’s not like that at all.
Whatever Happened With Apple’s PrimeSense Acquisition? ★
Interesting piece by Matt Sayward on where Apple might be heading as the world’s leading camera company:
In November 2013, Apple acquired an Israeli 3D-sensor company
named PrimeSense for somewhere in between a reported 350,000,000
and 360,000,000 dollars. As Apple acquisitions go, that’s a
biggie. Only Beats (the foundation of Apple Music at $3bn), NeXT
(the deal that brought Steve Jobs back for $400m), and AuthenTec
($390m that manifested itself in Touch ID) were certifiably
And yet, two years on, we still can’t really say what happened
with PrimeSense’s technology with any sense of fortitude.
On this point:
Last November, on another episode of The Talk Show, John
Gruber dropped a unusually heavy hint about what he’d heard about
the upcoming set of iPhones that will debut in Q3 of this year:
The specific thing I heard is that next year’s camera might be
the biggest camera jump ever. I don’t even know what sense this
makes, but I’ve heard that it’s some kind of weird two-lens
system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes
it up into DSLR quality imagery.
Well, I had a think about this. And I might have something
For what it’s worth, I think I might have been wrong about the timing on this. If Apple sticks with the tick-tock schedule and unveils iPhone 6S and 6S Plus updates in September, the new dual-lens camera is probably a 2016 iPhone thing, not a 2015 iPhone thing. I should have realized this all along.
Anyway, rumors aside, Sayward has some interesting speculation on why Apple might go this route.
‘Improves Networking Reliability’ ★
OS X 10.10.4 shipped today, and as expected based on the developer betas, Discoveryd is gone, replaced by an updated version of good old mDNSresponder. At WWDC, word on the street was that Apple closed over 300 radars with this move. Not dupes — 300 discrete radars.
‘It’s All About Curation, Curation, Curation’ ★
Christina Warren’s first look at Apple Music:
The real heart of Apple Music is the For You tab. This is
basically your music homescreen. When you open the section for the
first time, you’re asked to go through a discovery exercise. This
was lifted directly from Beats Music and it’s one of the best
discovery tools I’ve used over the years. […]
It’s hard for me to over-stress how much I like For You. From the
very beginning, the recommendations in playlists and albums that
the app showed me were dead-on accurate, reflecting my various
Straight out, I was given a recommendation of a Taylor Swift love
ballad playlist and albums from The Kinks, Sufjan Stevens, Elliot
Smith, The Shins, Miguel and Drake. So basically my musical brain.
Apple Music on Tumblr ★
They’re on Twitter and Instagram, too.
Also: gorgeous use of the San Francisco font family on this page.
Jim Dalrymple Talks to Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine About Apple Music ★
“As part of this ecosystem, what if there was a station that
didn’t have any of those rules and didn’t serve any of those
masters,” said Iovine. “What if it just took anything that was
exciting, whether it be on Connect or a new record out of Brooklyn
“Or whether it was rock or hip hop,” added Cue.
So one of those genres could literally follow the other on Beats
“It works,” said Iovine. “And it works because the DJ is in the
middle explaining how it works. DJs give you context.”
So what does Beats 1 Radio compete with? Nothing, according
“It doesn’t compete with anything that’s out there because there’s
never been anything like this,” said Iovine.
See also: Jim’s first look at Apple Music.
Intercom: Connect With Your Mobile Users ★
My thanks to Intercom for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Intercom allows developers to see their users, the actions they take, and communicate with them in a single integrated platform.
Intercom allows developers to collect product feedback and engage with their users with personalized, targeted in-app messages. Visit Intercom to learn more — they have a great intro video right on their home page — and get started for free.
iMore’s Apple Music FAQ ★
A few words from Serenity Caldwell on Apple’s imminent new music platform.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: ‘If We Want to Save Some Money Let’s Just Get Rid of the Court’ ★
Catherine Thompson, reporting for TPM:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Friday suggested doing away
with the Supreme Court during a speech in Iowa that followed the
court’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage.
“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on
their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a
judicial body,” he told the crowd, as quoted by The Advocate
newspaper. “If we want to save some money let’s just get rid of
I was going to crack a joke about Jindal being more of a clown candidate for president than Donald Trump, but the more I think about it, the less funny this seems. It’s just outright pandering to bigotry and, especially, ignorance — from the sitting governor of one of our states.
It’s one thing to disagree with a Supreme Court decision. That’s part of politics and civic discourse. It’s another to argue that an entire branch of government lacks legitimacy. Keep in mind, too, that Republican nominees have held a majority on the Supreme Court for four decades. For fun, imagine the reaction from these Republicans if Justice Kennedy had been appointed to the Court by a Democratic president, instead of by Ronald Reagan.
App Camp for Girls 3.0 ★
App Camp For Girls is on a mission: we encourage girls to pursue
app development as a career by teaching them how to make iPhone
apps in a fun, creative summer camp program under the mentorship
of women developers. We are shifting the gender balance in our
industry. App Camp 3.0 is the next stage in bringing the program
to more girls in more locations!
They’re hoping to expand to four new locations this year, but they need your help during the last week of their fundraising campaign for the year. Daring Fireball is already committed as a $1,000 Community Sponsor. Like with any of these crowdfunding campaigns, though, any amount, no matter how small, can help. I think App Camp for Girls is a wonderful idea, well-executed, and I’d love to see the DF readership help put them over the top for funding this year.
See also: This cool video from my pals at Story and Pixel with lots of footage from last year’s App Camp for Girls in Portland.
Apple Music to Pay Two-Tenths of a Cent Per Stream During Trial Period ★
Ben Sisario, reporting for the NYT:
For each song that is streamed free, Apple will pay 0.2 cent for
the use of recordings, a rate that music executives said was
roughly comparable to the free tiers from services like Spotify.
This rate does not include a smaller payment for songwriting
rights that goes to music publishers; Apple is still negotiating
with many publishers over those terms, several publishing
companies confirmed on Wednesday.
According to the music executives, these rates would apply to
For independents, the negotiations with Apple are seen as a
victory, allowing thousands of small labels to be part of Apple
Music and earn money when people listen to their songs.
Maybe I’m vastly underestimating just how many songs are going to be streamed from Apple Music, but my gut feeling is that there aren’t many artists who are going to make serious money at just two-tenths of a cent per song streamed.
Let’s say Apple Music generates 100 million plays per day from customers on the free trial. At $0.002 per play, that’s $200,000 in payments to the artists and record labels, or about $6 million per month. That’s couch change for Apple.
Maybe I’m way off, and the number of plays will be more like 1 billion per day?
Retro ThinkPad Concept ★
David Hill, vice president of identity and design for Lenovo:
For a while now I’ve been exploring the idea of introducing a very
unique ThinkPad model. Imagine a ThinkPad that embodies all the
latest technology advances, however, embraces the original design
details in the strongest way possible. I’ve been referring to the
concept as retro ThinkPad. Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic
keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo,
dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots
of status LED’s, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time
machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today’s technology.
Although not for everyone, I’m certain there’s a group of people
who would stand in line to purchase such a special ThinkPad model.
Lenovo should totally do this.
iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views ★
In a technical session at WWDC, Apple detailed how Safari View
Controller has been closely modeled after Safari with consistency
and quick interactions in mind. Safari View Controller looks a lot
like Safari: when users tap a web link in an app that uses Safari
View Controller, they’ll be presented with a Safari page that
displays the address bar at the top and other controls at the
bottom or next to it — just like the regular Safari on the iPhone
and iPad. There are two minor visual differences with Safari: when
opened in Safari View Controller, the URL in the address bar will
be grayed out to indicate it’s in read-only mode; and, a Safari
button is available in the toolbar, so that users will be able to
quickly jump to Safari if they want to continue navigation in the
Apple Music Strikes Deal With Thousands of Indie Artists ★
Shirley Halperin and Lars Brandle, reporting for Billboard:
Apple Music, the hardware giant’s soon-to-launch streaming
service, has landed an eleventh-hour coup, striking deals with the
independents’ digital rights organization Merlin and with Martin
Mills’ indie powerhouse Beggars Group, sources tell Billboard.
Label group PIAS has also announced it has signed on.
In a letter sent to Merlin members, CEO Charles Caldas writes, “I
am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all
usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as
well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been
communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we
are happy to support the deal.”
We’ve got a whole week before the “eleventh hour”, but, still, if this issue of paying artists during the free trial was the sole roadblock, it makes me wonder why it took until Taylor Swift’s open letter for Apple to rethink this. Shouldn’t this have been obvious months ago?
‘Everyone in Buenos Aires Is Communicating by Voice Memo Now’ ★
Kari Paul, writing for Motherboard:
On any given block in Buenos Aires, you are likely to see someone
speaking into their phone, but not on it; talking to someone, but
not necessarily with anyone. I recently visited the city, and was
struck by the fact that it seemed like all the citizens were
walking around expressively talking to themselves. In reality,
most people are perpetually sending voice memos to one another.
The phone call has long been a thing of the past when it comes to
daily communication, but in Argentina, mobile phone users are
increasingly turning to voice memos instead of texting to
Interesting how something like texting can evolve in very different ways in different countries. I think I’ve only received like three or four voice memo texts ever.
Samsung PCs Disable Windows Update ★
Owen Williams, writing for The Next Web:
That software does something slightly sinister in the background,
however: it disables Windows Update. A post by Microsoft MVP,
Patrick Barker, details a small application that’s quietly
installed in the background to block updates.
The app, conspicuously named Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, is
installed automatically without the owner’s knowledge. According
to a support representative, it’s there to stop the computer from
automatically downloading drivers from Windows Update that could
be incompatible with the system or cause features to break.
Glad to hear that the Windows PC experience remains as fun as ever.
Inside a Pair of Beats Headphones ★
Avery Louie of Bolt:
One of the great things about the solo headphones is how
substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product
feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is
to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In
these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal
parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.
Update: Sounds like this teardown is widely regarded as baseless clickbait. Marco Arment says the metal pieces are hinges at stress points, and are made from metal for durability. And here’s a YouTube video that makes the point even more clearly.
Update 2: It gets worse — looks like this is a teardown of a pair of knockoff Beats, not actual Beats.
My thanks to Crashlytics for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Answers, their mobile analytics platform. Answers has gone from zero to being the second-most-used mobile analytics tool in under a year, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s gorgeous, reliable, and powerful.
Check them out for the inside story of how and why they built Answers.
Facing the Music ★
Still catching up from last week. Here’s Dr. Drang on the Apple Music segment of the WWDC keynote:
The new Apple Music service/app/thing occupied the celebrated “one
more thing” position, and it was painful to watch. Apple used five
presenters — Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, Drake, Zane Lowe, and
Eddy Cue — to try to explain what Apple Music is and why we
should care, and they all failed. Of the five, Reznor and Lowe
acquitted themselves best, but that’s probably because they were
recorded, not live. I can imagine Iovine being very persuasive
one-on-one or in a small group, but he certainly wasn’t impressive
on the big stage. He never gave the impression that the words he
was speaking were his. Drake seemed to think he could just wing it
during his section; he’s obviously used to adoring fans applauding
every off-the-cuff remark he makes on stage. Which leaves us with
poor Eddy Cue, who’s going to bear the brunt of the criticism.
The Talk Show: ‘Schiller Did Not Have to Put Up With This Bullshit’ ★
New episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast, with special guest Guy English. We make a valiant but failed effort to cover all of the technical/developer news from last week’s WWDC. Among the topics we did hit: app thinning, Bitcode, WatchKit 2.0, CloudKit (and opening it up to web developers), Swift 2.0, Metal coming to the Mac, accessibility and low-level support for right-to-left languages, iOS 9’s new low-power mode, and more.
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Today Is National Martini Day ★
Apple Discontinues Original iPad Mini ★
Apple’s discontinuation of the iPad mini leaves the remaining
iPads as a completely 64-bit family, all using either A7 and A8X
processors rather than the iPad mini’s aging A5. It also means
that all remaining iPads have Retina displays and unified Wi-Fi +
‘A Papal Message That Spares No One’ ★
Elizabeth Kolbert, writing for The New Yorker on Pope Francis’s new encyclical on climate change and the environment:
Whether the Pope’s message will have any influence — on the
world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, on the delegations currently trying
to devise an international climate agreement, or on anyone else —
remains to be seen. Up to now, the sowers of discord have done a
good job blocking action on climate change, and, if the leak of
the encyclical is any guide, they are still hard at work.
Meanwhile, as @Pontifex tweeted to his 6.3 million followers
Thursday, “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more
like an immense pile of filth.”
I enjoyed Kontra’s observation:
We’re living in a country where the Pope likely couldn’t be head
of several Congressional committees because he’s not
Accessibility Is a User-Attracting Feature ★
Craig Hockenberry on the results of Apple featuring Twitterrific on their “Popular Apps Using VoiceOver” page on the App Store. Looks like a bigger spike than when the Apple Watch launched.
Ad Blocking Irony ★
PC Magazine ran a piece by Eric Griffith headlined, “Apple iOS 9 Ad-Blocking Explained (And Why It’s a Bad Move)”.
Here is what it looks like on an iPhone. Here’s what it looks like on a Mac. Ridiculous.
I run a business almost entirely based on advertising. I am, thus, naturally disinclined to support ad-blocking. But from the outset, I’ve followed the advertising version of the golden rule: Present ads to readers (and podcast listeners) that you yourself would not be annoyed by. Advertisers and publishers who present user-hostile ads should not be surprised when the users fight back.
(For a detailed look at WebKit Content Blockers, see Benjamin Poulain’s introductory article at the Surfin’ Safari blog.)
The Rise of DuckDuckGo ★
John Paul Titlow, writing for Fast Company:
The premise of DuckDuckGo is simple: It doesn’t track your
searches or any other online activity. Whereas Google has built a
$66 billion dollar-a-year business around knowing more and more
about its users’ every click, tap, and scroll, DuckDuckGo prefers
ignorance. It doesn’t have user logins, it doesn’t log your search
history or IP address. Even if they wanted to hand over data about
your search history, they couldn’t. That data just doesn’t exist.
Instead of profiting from heaps of user data, DuckDuckGo has opted
for a simpler business model: Old-school search ads that pair the
keywords in people’s queries with relevant ads placed by the
highest bidder. Weinberg says the company also makes money from
affiliate links to sites like Amazon and eBay.
I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine in Safari for months now, and the results just keep getting better. I do have to switch to Google for some queries, but that’s happening less and less.
Apple and Accessibility ★
Steven Aquino, writing for TechCrunch:
But it isn’t only Apple who’s doing good. Third-party developers
have a responsibility to incorporate accessibility into their apps
as well, and that’s where WWDC comes in. Apple provides numerous
resources to developers during the conference that help he or she
ensure that their app(s) are as accessible as possible.
The accessibility presence at WWDC is deep and far-reaching; Apple
does much to raise awareness of and advocate for the accessibility
community. Apple this week granted me behind-the-scenes access to
sessions, labs, and developer interviews at Moscone so as to tell
WWDC’s accessibility story.
Steven’s is a great roundup of the numerous ways accessibility was emphasized at WWDC last week. I’ll draw your attention to a few items though:
Paul Ford: ‘What Is Code?’ ★
Jaw-dropping, epic-length work of art from Paul Ford. Save this for when you have time to sit back and let it sink in. Glorious.
European Commission Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Amazon’s E-Book Distribution Arrangements ★
The European Commission:
The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust
investigation into certain business practices by Amazon in the
distribution of electronic books (“e-books”). The Commission will
in particular investigate certain clauses included in Amazon’s
contracts with publishers. These clauses require publishers to
inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered
to Amazon’s competitors and/or offer Amazon similar terms and
conditions than to its competitors, or through other means ensure
that Amazon is offered terms at least as good as those for its
The Commission has concerns that such clauses may make it more
difficult for other e-book distributors to compete with Amazon by
developing new and innovative products and services. The
Commission will investigate whether such clauses may limit
competition between different e-book distributors and may reduce
choice for consumers.
iOS 9 ‘Content Blocking’ Extension API for Mobile Safari ★
Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:
Ad blocking extensions have been possible on Safari for Mac for a
long time, but plugin architecture for Safari on iOS is much more
limited. With iOS 9, Apple has added a special case of extension
for ad blockers. Apps can now include “content blocker” extensions
that define resources (like images and scripts) for Safari to not
load. For the first time, this architecture makes ad blockers a
real possibility for iOS developers to make and iOS customers to
install and use.
The inclusion of such a feature at this time is interesting. Apple
is also pushing its own news solution in iOS 9 with the News app,
which will include ads but not be affected by the content blocking
extensions as they only apply to Safari. There is also clearly the
potential for Safari ad blockers to hurt Google, which seems to be
a common trend with Apple’s announcements recently…
I think the timing with News is coincidental. But this is huge news — there are way more iOS Safari users than OS X Safari users.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to Step Down ★
Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:
Dick Costolo, Twitter’s embattled chief executive, is stepping down, the company said Thursday.
Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder and chairman, will serve as interim chief executive while the board searches for a permanent successor.
The change is effective July 1. Twitter shares were up more than 7 percent in after-hours trading immediately after the news was announced.
Rightly or wrongly, the writing has been on the wall: Wall Street wanted Costolo out. But I think what Wall Street wants is a pipe dream: for Twitter to turn into another Facebook. No CEO is going to make that happen. Maybe someone else will do better, but I think Costolo started with a hand dealt from a stacked deck.
My biggest fear: Twitter brings in a new CEO with a plan that pleases Wall Street but ruins Twitter as we know it.
My biggest hope: the new CEO resuscitates Twitter’s neutered, stagnant developer platform.
Move to iOS ★
Another fascinating item that didn’t make it into the keynote: Apple is introducing a new app called “Move to iOS”, for Android switchers:
Just download the Move to iOS app to wirelessly switch from your
Android device to your new iOS device. It securely transfers your
contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web
bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs
and books. And it will help you rebuild your app library, too. Any
free apps you used — like Facebook and Twitter — are suggested
for download from the App Store. And your paid apps are added to
your iTunes Wish List.
It’s both an Android app and an iOS app.
Apple Music ★
One thing that wasn’t clear to me in the keynote is just how much of the iTunes Store library is included with Apple Music. The most Apple is saying publicly is that Apple Music has “over 30 million songs”. From what I’ve been able to gather today, that pretty much means “everything”. There might be some exceptions, and there might be some deals that haven’t been finalized yet, but the idea is that for $10/month you get access to everything, from every artist.
A mild surprise (to me at least) is that they’re bringing it to Android. So: Does that mean Apple will be paying Google 30 percent of their revenue from Android users?
Apple WatchOS 2 Preview ★
Some of these features, like the time lapse and photo watch faces, were shown at the September event — they must have been dropped in the race to ship 1.0 in April.
It wasn’t mentioned during the keynote, but Activation Lock is coming. (Finally.)
Explaining Away Apple’s Success ★
John Kirk, writing at Techpinions in response to John Naughton’s the-headline-alone-tells-you-just-how-craptacular-it-is column for The Guardian, “If Steve Jobs’s Death Didn’t Ruin Apple, the iCar Surely Will”:
The author has — as so many have before him — reversed cause and
effect. People didn’t buy Apple products because they revered
Steve Jobs. They revered Steve Jobs because he created products
that people wanted to buy. Similarly, people don’t buy Apple
products because they like Apple. They buy Apple products because
Apple makes products they like.
Along similar lines, here’s a phrasing/line of argument I’ve been noticing a lot recently: “For now, Apple is doing well…”, employed by writers and pundits who seem to remain convinced that Apple is never more than a misstep or two away from collapse.
Privacy vs. User Experience ★
The best piece I’ve read arguing for the other side of the “Google violates your privacy” debate is this piece from Dustin Curtis, written back in October:
Apple is going to realize very soon that it has made a grave
mistake by positioning itself as a bastion of privacy against
Google, the evil invader of everyone’s secrets. The truth is that
collecting information about people allows you to make
significantly better products, and the more information you
collect, the better products you can build. Apple can barely sync
iMessage across devices because it uses an encryption system that
prevents it from being able to read the actual messages. Google
knows where I am right now, where I need to be for my meeting in
an hour, what the traffic is like, and whether I usually take
public transportation, a taxi, or drive myself. Using that
information, it can tell me exactly when to leave. This isn’t
science fiction; it’s actually happening. And Apple’s hardline
stance on privacy is going to leave it in Google’s dust.
There’s much I disagree with in Curtis’s piece, but it’s well-worth reading. I think he’s wrong, and that his fundamental mistake is conflating the collection of information in order to provide useful context-aware services with the collection of information in order to sell targeted advertising. But maybe he’s right. His is certainly the best articulation of the pro-Google perspective that I’ve seen.
The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling ★
Natasha Lomas, writing for TechCrunch regarding an eye-opening study from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania:
One thing is clear: the great lie about online privacy is
unraveling. The obfuscated commercial collection of vast amounts
of personal data in exchange for “free” services is gradually
being revealed for what it is: a heist of unprecedented scale.
Behind the bland, intellectually dishonest facade that claims
there’s “nothing to see here” gigantic data-mining apparatus have
been maneuvered into place, atop vast mountains of stolen
Stolen because it has never been made clear to consumers what is
being taken, and how that information is being used. How can you
consent to something you don’t know or understand? Informed
consent requires transparency and an ability to control what
happens. Both of which are systematically undermined by companies
whose business models require that vast amounts of personal data
be shoveled ceaselessly into their engines.
Hermann Zapf Dies at 96 ★
Anna Quito, writing for Quartz:
Hermann Zapf, the designer of fonts such as Palatino, Optima,
Zapfino, Melior, Aldus, and the bizarre but much beloved Zapf
Dingbats, has died at age 96. The revered German typographer and
calligrapher passed away on June 4. In his long and prolific
career, Zapf worked on many fonts, but his personal favorite was
the humanist sans serif typeface Optima, the lettering chosen for
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, DC.
After Dark in CSS ★
A fun dose of classic Mac OS nostalgia, thanks to developer Bryan Braun.
See also: A web browser port of Lunatic Fringe.
The Talk Show: ‘Everyone Needs a Jerk’ ★
The WWDC 2015 prelude episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. My special guest is Mark Gurman, and talk about anything and everything you’d want to know heading into WWDC next week.
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The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerry ★
I missed this excerpt from Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, when it ran in the WSJ two weeks ago. It’s a good read:
The iPhone’s popularity with consumers was illogical to rivals
such as RIM, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. The phone’s battery
lasted less than eight hours, it operated on an older, slower
second-generation network, and, as Mr. Lazaridis predicted, music,
video and other downloads strained AT&T’s network. RIM now faced
an adversary it didn’t understand.
“By all rights the product should have failed, but it did not,”
said David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer. To Mr. Yach and
other senior RIM executives, Apple changed the competitive
landscape by shifting the raison d’être of smartphones from
something that was functional to a product that was beautiful.
“I learned that beauty matters…. RIM was caught incredulous that
people wanted to buy this thing,” Mr. Yach says.
Sounds to me like they still don’t understand the appeal of the iPhone. It wasn’t (and isn’t) only about beauty. It’s about being a real, true, personal computer in your pocket or purse.
Update: Here’s a link to work around the WSJ’s paywall.
Why Android Camera Phones Still Suck ★
Evan Rodgers, writing for Motherboard:
Android phones do have good cameras, but what we need is better
software. RAW support allows us to see what these cameras are
technically capable of, but until we can trust phone makers to
invest in quality processing algorithms, Android cameras will
continue to lag behind Apple and Microsoft’s.
Shot on iPhone 6: Films ★
I look at these gorgeous little movies, and all I can think is that eight years ago, we were all anxiously waiting for the original iPhone — which didn’t even shoot video at all. From that to this in eight years.
HTC Introduces 24-Karat Gold One M9 Using a Photo Taken With an iPhone ★
You really can’t make these things up.
My thanks to Answers for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their landing page is just terrific — a gorgeous layout, and the inside story of how a small team went from zero to being the number two mobile analytics tools in just a few months. Check them out.
Financial Times: Apple Reconsidering 70/30 Split With Media Companies ★
Tim Bradshaw and Shannon Bond, reporting for the FT:
Apple is planning a departure from the pricing formula that has
defined the economics of digital media for a decade, which would
cut the 30 per cent fee that media companies pay on subscriptions.
The iPhone maker is discussing new commercial terms with media
companies, people familiar with the matter said, to change the
70/30 “Apple tax” pioneered by Steve Jobs when its late founder
launched the iTunes music store in 2003.
Unclear what the new terms would be, but interesting still.
No Women From Original Macintosh Team in Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Movie? ★
Megan Smith, chief technology officer for the United States, in an interview with Charlie Rose:
“There are these incredible photographs from the launch of the
Macintosh in the 80’s, and the Rolling Stone pictures that were
published. The historic record shows this group of 10 people in a
pyramid — actually 11, seven men and four women. Every photograph
you see with the Mac team has Joanna Hoffman, who was the product
manager, a great teammate of Steve Jobs, and Susan Kare who did
all the graphics and user interface on the artist side. None of
them made it into the Jobs movie. They’re not even cast. And every
man in the photographs is in the movie with a speaking role. It’s
debilitating to our young women to have their history almost
She’s misremembering the pyramid photo, slightly. It featured eight men and three women (Susan Kare, Rony Sebok, and Patti Kenyon). Joanna Hoffman wasn’t in the photo — but Smith is exactly right that Hoffman was instrumental to the project. If it’s true that none of these women are in Sorkin’s movie, that’s just criminal.
Update: It’s widely-reported that Kate Winslet plays Hoffman in the film, and the IMDB listing claims Sebok and Kenyon were cast as well.
Via Twitter, Hal O’Brien posits that Megan Smith’s criticism was about the Ashton Kutcher movie, not the upcoming Sorkin one.
Marc Newson Interview With The London Evening Standard ★
John Arlidge, interviewing Marc Newson for The London Evening Standard:
Given that this is his first print interview since he formally
started his new role, let’s start with the formalities. What’s
your job title? ‘I don’t really have one but I work on special
projects.’ Is it full-time? ‘It’s about 60 per cent of my time.’
How long will you do it? ‘Indefinitely, I hope.’ Did you work with
Steve Jobs before he died? ‘No, but I met him.’ Who earns more,
you or Jonathan? ‘I think you can guess that.’ Ive is equal 637th
on the latest Sunday Times Rich List, worth £150m.
Is that a British thing, asking so bluntly who earns more? Strikes me as rather uncouth, but maybe that’s my perspective as an American.
What is Newson’s next move? He’s not allowed to say, of course.
But the clue is in his job title. Don’t expect a Newson iPhone or
iPad: stand by for something more. He’s particularly interested in
what technology can bring to fashion. ‘We will start to see more
technology embedded in garments — magic woven in. There are some
incredible things that are going to happen.’
Another big leap would be a car. Both he and Ive are petrolheads.
Each owns several hundred thousand pounds’ worth of mainly classic
Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and Bentleys. Newson has designed a
concept car for Ford. Car firms are racing to make their new
models so hi-tech they create the auto-motive answer to the
iPhone. BMW has even set up its own hi-tech division that makes
electric cars with the prefix ‘i’. Why not accelerate ahead of the
pack with an iCar? Newson does little to damp down the
speculation: ‘There is certainly vast opportunity in that area to
be more intelligent.’
Apple Watch Production Catching Up With Demand ★
“The response to Apple Watch has surpassed our expectations in
every way, and we are thrilled to bring it to more customers
around the world,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice
president of Operations. “We’re also making great progress with
the backlog of Apple Watch orders, and we thank our customers for
their patience. All orders placed through May, with the sole
exception of Apple Watch 42 mm Space Black Stainless Steel with
Space Black Link Bracelet, will ship to customers within two
weeks. At that time, we’ll also begin selling some models in our
Apple Retail Stores.”
So space black stainless steel is one exception. Another — unmentioned by Apple in this press release — are the 38mm Modern Buckle bands. In the online store, they’re listed as “Currently Unavailable”. You can get the watches that come with the Modern Buckle (right now they’re quoting “June 18–25” as the delivery window), but not the standalone bands.
Uber and Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Partnership’ Sort of Like That Between Fox and Henhouse ★
Mike Ramsey and Douglas MacMillan, reporting for the WSJ:
Carnegie Mellon University is scrambling to recover after Uber
Technologies Inc. poached 40 of its researchers and scientists
earlier this year, a raid that left one of the world’s top
robotics research institutions in a crisis.
In February, Carnegie Mellon and Uber trumpeted a strategic
partnership in which the school would “work closely” with the
ride-hailing service to develop driverless-car technology.
Behind the scenes, the tie-up was more combative than
Uber and Carnegie Mellon have yet to work jointly on any projects.
The Misunderstanding of 3D ★
Daniel Engber, writing for The New Yorker:
But the secret of 3-D — its central irony, let’s say — is that
it isn’t any good for spectacle. Adding a dimension often serves
to shrink the objects on the screen, instead of giving them more
pomp; trees and mountains end up looking like pieces in a diorama;
people seem like puppets. Action, too, suffers in the format,
because rapid horizontal movements mess with the illusion and
fast-paced edits in 3-D tend to wear a viewer out.
I spoke about this on last week’s episode of The Talk Show, with Rene Ritchie. I find when I watch 3D movies in the theater, when I walk out, I can’t remember half of what happened. I like 3D in short doses, like on attractions at Disney World, but for feature films I find it ruins the whole experience.
See also: Legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, explaining why “3D doesn’t work and never will” in a 2011 letter to Roger Ebert. (Previously linked here.)
Remarkable new GUI Mac client for Git by Pierre-Olivier Latour (one of the founders of the late, great Everpix photo service). If you use Git, you need to check this out.
Om Malik and Josh Topolsky on Bloomberg TV with Emily Chang, discussing Chris Sacca’s epic post regarding what Twitter should do.
Brent Simmons Resigns From Q Branch ★
Brent Simmons on leaving Q Branch, the company he co-founded with me and Dave Wiskus to produce Vesper:
I decided to leave because I wasn’t working on the software that
I’ve been obsessed with for more than a decade.
I turned 47 a little while ago, and I’ve had some reasons to
reflect on the shortness of life, and I realized how very
important it is for me to work on the software that I think about
every day. I kept putting it off, but every day that I put it off
hurt more than the previous day. I realized that I couldn’t
continue — I have to do the work that I need to do.
I’ve known Brent since before I was writing Daring Fireball, and he’s always been on my short list of “people I’d love to work with”. And, he still is. He’s a good friend and one of the most amazing developers I’ve ever encountered.
For Q Branch and Vesper, life goes on. We don’t have anything to announce today, other than that this is not the end. In the meantime, I simply want to publicly wish Brent well. He’s still full-time at The Omni Group, which means Q Branch work had been relegated to nights-and-weekends time. Nights-and-weekends time is for your passions, not for obligations.
James Bond Cars Through the Years ★
Another clever HTML5 site, this one from U.K. car dealer Evans Halshaw. (Can’t believe they left out the Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds Are Forever, though.)
Fantastical 2 for Apple Watch ★
Speaking of updates to my favorite apps, the new version of Fantastical for iPhone now has a Watch app, and it’s good. In addition to providing a “list of upcoming events” calendar view that makes way more sense to me than the built-in Calendar app, Fantastical on the watch also gives you access to your system-wide reminders and provides a more useful glance.
Update: Turns out the built-in Calendar app does have a list view — you can switch to it with a force tap. I’ve obviously violated my own second rule of Apple Watch: Try force tapping everything. (My first rule of Apple Watch: Re-read the Getting Started pamphlet that came with the watch after a day or two.)
Sweet Yosemite-style update to my favorite Twitter client.
Jerry Dior, Designer of Major League Baseball’s Logo, Dies at 82 ★
Margalit Fox, writing for the NYT:
Jerry Dior, a graphic designer who created one of the most
instantly recognizable logos in the history of American
marketing — the silhouetted batter that has long symbolized
Major League Baseball — but who received official credit for it
only 40 years after the fact, died on May 10 at his home in
Edison, N.J. He was 82.
Truly one of the best and most enduring logos in the world.
Species in Pieces ★
New PayPal User Agreement Opts You Into Receiving Robocalls ★
Brian Fung, reporting for The Washington Post:
PayPal users, this is for you.
The payments company is rolling out an update to its user
agreement that threatens to bombard you with “autodialed or
prerecorded calls and text messages” — and worse, by agreeing to
the updated terms, you’re immediately opted in.
PayPal can even reach you at phone numbers that you didn’t
provide. Through undisclosed means, PayPal says it has the right
to contact you on numbers “we have otherwise obtained.” […]
“If you do not agree to these amended terms,” the revised document
says, “you may close your account within the 30 day period and you
will not be bound by the amended terms.”
In other words, put up with it — or get out.
I don’t even see the need to comment on this one.
Chris Sacca — a major investor in Twitter — wrote an enormous essay on what he sees as the way forward for the service. I wish there were a Cliff’s Notes summary, because it’s rambling. But, it’s also full of interesting insights. I like this bit, as a summary of what’s wrong at the moment:
It’s worth noting that Wall Street is the only place in the world
where 300 million people using a service and an additional 500
million people visiting a site each month lead to charges that it
isn’t “big” or “mainstream.”
That said, Twitter has failed to meet its own stated user growth
expectations and has not been able to take advantage of the
massive number of users who have signed up for accounts and then
not come back. Shortcomings in the direct response advertising
category have resulted in the company coming in below the
financial community’s quarterly estimates. In the wake of this,
Twitter’s efforts to convince the investing community of the
opportunity ahead fell flat. Consequently, the stock is trading
near a 6-month low, well below its IPO closing day price, and
the company is suffering through a seemingly endless negative
Up Next ★
Speaking of iOS apps, Up Next is interesting. It’s a to-do list manager that integrates with your iCloud reminders. I know, there are a million to-do list apps on the App Store, but what brought Up Next to my attention is that it has a good WatchKit app, too. I’m not sure why Apple didn’t include a built-in Reminders app on Apple Watch, but Up Next gives you access to your iCloud reminders list, right from your watch. Incredibly cheap: just $2.
Remember Bugshot, an iPhone app Marco Arment made a few years ago for marking up screenshots with red boxes and arrows? The guys at Lickability have taken it over, expanded its features, and rebranded it as Pinpoint. It’s good, and it’s free — with a clever (or at least novel) in-app purchasing model where you pay to unlock additional colors.
See also: Federico Viticci’s review.
Tony Fadell: ‘The First Secret of Design Is Noticing’ ★
Good talk from Tony Fadell at TED.
New York Times: No New Apple TV Next Week ★
Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:
Apart from more powerful watch apps, Apple’s developer conference
is also set to showcase software advancements for OS X, the Mac
operating system, and iOS, the mobile operating system powering
iPhones and iPads. In addition, Apple plans to unveil a new
streaming music service it developed with Beats, the music company
it acquired for $3 billion last year, according to people briefed
on the situation, who declined to be identified because the
details were confidential.
Yet one much ballyhooed device will be absent from the conference:
a new Apple TV, Apple’s set-top box for televisions. The company
planned as recently as mid-May to use the event to spotlight new
Apple TV hardware, along with an improved remote control and a
tool kit for developers to make apps for the entertainment device.
But those plans were postponed partly because the product was not
ready for prime time, according to two people briefed on the
Insert sad trombone song here.
Update: I like Moltz’s take.
On Apple’s Privacy Argument Regarding Cloud Services ★
Thomas Ricker, writing for The Verge, regarding Tim Cook’s harsh words on the privacy implications of “free” online services backed by targeted advertising:
Arguably, Google Maps is better than Apple Maps, Gmail is better
than Apple Mail, Google Drive is better than iCloud, Google Docs
is better than iWork, and Google Photos can “surprise and delight”
better than Apple Photos. Even with the risks.
If Apple truly cares about our privacy then it should stop talking
about how important it is and start building superior cloud-based
services we want to use — then it can protect us.
There’s much I would quibble with regarding Ricker’s piece, but his conclusion, quoted above, is spot-on. Apple needs to provide best-of-breed services and privacy, not second-best-but-more-private services. Many people will and do choose convenience and reliability over privacy. Apple’s superior position on privacy needs to be the icing on the cake, not their primary selling point.
Showtime to Offer Standalone Over-the-Internet Service Via iTunes for $11/Month ★
Wonder why they didn’t wait until Monday’s keynote to announce this? Maybe because Apple didn’t get a three-month exclusive window like they did with HBO?
Reconcilable Differences ★
New podcast, cohosted by Merlin Mann and John Siracusa. Sweet.
See also: Cortex, another new podcast on the Relay network, with CGP Grey and Myke Hurley.
Last Task After Layoff at Disney: Train Foreign Replacements ★
Julia Preston, reporting for the NYT:
The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt
Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were
suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.
While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for
Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored
computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of
Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel
reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so
well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.
Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that
they would be laid off.
What a dick move. I expect better from Disney.
Speaking of Unpaid Apple Product Placement on Twitter ★
The Cleveland Indians bullpen caught teammate Brandon Moss’s landmark 100th career home run. They delivered a ransom note for the ball.
Stephen Colbert Made Us Something ★
Web Decay Graph ★
I’ve been writing this blog since 2003 and in that time have laid
down, along with way over a million words, 12,373 hyperlinks. I’ve
noticed that when something leads me back to an old piece, the
links are broken disappointingly often. So I made a little graph
of their decay over the last 144 months.
It’s absolutely depressing how many of the links from the early years of Daring Fireball now point to 404’s. I’ve long thought about hiring someone to go through my archive and try to fix all those broken links by updating them to point to the Internet Archive’s cache of their contents.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 ★
Abdel Ibrahim, writing for Watch Aware on the fresh-off-the-rip-off-express Asus ZenWatch 2:
It get worse, though. The video they’ve put together resembles so
much of the video Apple used to debut the Apple Watch it’s not
even funny. Seriously, just watch it.
Looking at The Verge’s photo gallery, the bands don’t even fit the watches well. Asus managed to make it look like a shameless rip-off and a complete piece of junk at the same time. Bravo.
Golf Tips From Steve Jobs ★
Regarding Avie Tevanian’s promotion from SVP of software engineering to Chief Software Technology Officer, a relevant excerpt from chapter 16 of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs:
“Steve kept people in a box,” says Avie. Tevanian had talked to
his boss several times about his itch to do something new, and in
2003, Steve had moved him into a role as the company’s “chief
software technology officer.” It was unquestionably a promotion,
but it turned out to be a job without much of a portfolio.
Tevanian found himself with little concrete responsibility. He
felt out of the loop, and realized that his new role would not
work. “Being a pseudo individual staff person working for Steve
doesn’t work, because he already has all the answers. He didn’t
like it when I would be in a meeting where he was reviewing a
product, and I would have an opinion. He just didn’t like it. And
he grew to not like that I could be a senior person like that
without having day-to-day responsibilities to deliver something,”
“Tim Cook, now Apple’s CEO, says that he worried about Tevanian
leaving, and urged Steve in 2004 to figure out another challenge
to keep the brilliant software engineer at Apple. “Steve looked at
me,” Cook remembers, “and goes, ‘I agree he’s really smart. But
he’s decided he doesn’t want to work. I’ve never found in my whole
life that you could convince someone who doesn’t want to work hard
to work hard.’ ” Another time, shortly after Steve had learned
that Tevanian had taken up golf, Steve carped to Cook that
something was really amiss. “Golf?!” he thundered incredulously.
“Who has time for golf?”
The TSA Is Even More Useless Than You Thought ★
David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica:
Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed banned
weapons and mock explosives through airport security checkpoints
95 percent of the time, according to the agency’s own undercover
ABC News reported the results on Monday, but Ars could not
independently confirm them. According to ABC News, a Homeland
Security Inspector General report showed that agents failed to
detect weapons and explosives in 67 out of 70 undercover
Just shut them down.
(I was going to link directly to the ABC News page, but in Safari on my Mac, it doesn’t let me scroll and the video autoplays, so screw them.)
Topolsky on Android M’s Now on Tap ★
Speaking of Josh Topolsky, his new column for Bloomberg is on Google’s Now on Tap, announced last week at I/O:
This is a major move for two reasons. The first is that it really
brings Google back to a place of dominance as the glue that holds
your digital life together. The web has thrived and grown in no
small part because of Google’s ability to track, organize, and
understand all of its disparate pieces. Now it’s able to do the
same thing with every app running on your phone. It allows Google
to get back into the search game by speaking the common language
of apps. It gives the company a second life with access to user
behavior and needs.
That’s a great way to think about Now on Tap. Google rose to prominence/dominance through their superior ability to (a) index the web and (b) make sense of what they’ve indexed. Everyone gets this — it’s obvious. But it’s also obvious that Google’s ability to index the web matters less in a world where people spend more and more of their time in native apps. Now on Tap is a step toward Google indexing the content we see in native apps.
Yours Truly Guesting on Josh Topolsky’s New ‘Tomorrow’ Podcast ★
Speaking of podcasts I appear on, I’m on the latest episode of Josh Topolsky’s Tomorrow. I always dig talking with Josh, because we disagree — to some degree — on so many things. Fun show.