Again, Mac OS X lacks some of the more advanced media consumption features of iOS. There is no system-wide support for Picture-in-Picture on OS X, for example. This means that watching a video on the side while working requires you to manually arrange your workspace just so. That is, if you even can. Few websites support resizing the video player inside the page, so you are limited to the fixed dimensions of that video and you get whatever is left over to do your work in. Compare that to the flexibility of size and placement you get with the iOS PiP window, which can even be placed off-screen.
Mac OS X also suffers from a much smaller range of available apps. Instead of the native apps you get on iOS for services like Netflix, Airbnb, Google Docs, YouTube and the like, Mac users have to make do with accessing these services through a web browser. That’s quite a hoop to jump through to get your work done: forcing such a huge proportion of your work through one app.
Clever post by Fraser Speirs, reviewing a MacBook as an iPad replacement. I still think the MacBook is the primary computer recommendation for any random user but its certainly true that reviewers overlook many of the iPad’s raw advantages in their comparisons.
This part-satirical part-serious comparison is great in that highlights the things about iOS devices that tend to go under-appreciated. In the course of making its point, it naturally ignores the common iOS shortcomings, so it’s by no means an unbiased commentary, not that it is really supposed to be.
Apple seems to plan removing the headset jack from the next iPhone 7, according to a reliable source.
Supplied Ear Pods will equip a Lightning connector, which means a DA (Digital to Analog) converter is required. The DA will be built in the Lightning connector without sacrificing the size, according to the source.
Put your iPhone flat on the table, look at the edges. It’s not hard to see what parts are getting the chop next. Like it or not, Apple wants iPhones to get prettier and prettier every chassis generation which largely revolves around thinness. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is on the chopping block; it’s the thickest element still standing.
The real question surrounding this rumor isn’t whether Apple would do this or not (they would), it’s the ramifications on customer satisfaction. I don’t have statistics to back this up but I would bet that most iPhone users connect the bundled EarPods headphones. Given that Apple will ship a pair of Lightning-equipped EarPods in the box, you’ve already removed the friction for a lot of the customer base. In regard to third-party accessories, it is true that there are few Lightning headphones available today. However, iPhone sales are so huge that there will be hundreds of Lightning headphones on the market, if/when it transpires that the iPhone 7 lacks a 3.5 mm jack.
It’s the classic chicken and egg problem, except with one big fat chicken.
I must say, Music Player & Playlist Playtube manager is a truly remarkable app. Its novel colour scheme of black, gold, grey, and coral breaks new ground. The various bugs that immediately present themselves prove that this developer understands how important it is to “always be shipping”. Perhaps most notably, in a market suffering a race to the bottom, this developer showed true entrepreneurial spirit by charging $3 and putting up a full-screen modal advertisement every few seconds.
As interesting as the app was, my attention immediately fixated on the prominent menu item titled “Reporting”. Tapping this composed an email – addressed to me, titled “Report & Contact”, and eager to capture your thoughts and feelings about the app.
This is an interesting issue where miscreant developers are using support and contact information from unrelated legitimate companies. You could argue this is exactly the kind of issue the App Store process is supposed to catch and it is. Metadata validation is the thing App Review checks on a very consistent basis. This particular issue though is time consuming and complicated to verify. If Apple wanted to solve this properly, it would need to tie email domains to registered developer Apple IDs which has its own set of problems.
At least in this case, the publicity of Steamclock’s blog post caught the attention of Apple developer relations and the bad app was pulled. This is probably a pointer towards the most likely solution for this on a wider basis: a ‘report a problem’ system that understands this is an issue that needs addressing by Apple, not individual users.
In addition, you’re also going to start seeing an option to “stream” some apps you don’t have installed, right from Google Search, provided you’re on good Wifi. For example, with one tap on a “Stream” button next to the HotelTonight app result, you’ll get a streamed version of the app, so that you can quickly and easily find what you need, and even complete a booking, just as if you were in the app itself. And if you like what you see, installing it is just a click away. This uses a new cloud-based technology that we’re currently experimenting with.
Imagine if opening a new website on your Mac required a significant download/install process before you could access the content. This is one of the biggest benefits the web has over native apps. Google’s new streaming option offers a patchwork remedy to this problem. My understanding is it works like OnLive, the video game streaming service. Essentially, Google servers run the app in question and stream an interactive video feed of the app to your phone or tablet screen. It’s interesting, clever, technology. Like OnLive, I assume this suffers from the same lag and latency issues inherent in a process of sending live video and receiving user input. It’s a decent solution for a quick skim when Google searching but frustrating for anything more serious or long term.
On an infinite timescale, download speeds and compute power will be so fast that downloading apps will be as speedy as opening a webpage.
For me, the Retina MacBook is like a sleek motorcycle that gets me to and from work in style without sacrificing my ability to use the same roads as someone driving a MacBook Pro and iMac. iPad Pro for me isn’t in the same category; it’s more like a portable home theater with a big screen and killer sound system where I can lounge and be entertained. Everyone will use these devices differently, but that’s where I’m at with the Retina MacBook and iPad Pro in their current form.
I wrote about the iPad Pro as the best toy ever the other day, drawn from the lust of a product that I still want and haven’t yet bought. Toy sounds condescending but I really don’t mean it like that, even if it does invoke memories of little kid Fischer-Price figurines and play sets. When I said toy, what I was really saying is that iPad Pro is a great entertainment device for movies, casual drawing with Pencil, laid-back web browsing, iOS gaming with the possibility for light work too. I concur with Zac’s summation.
In terms of wider market, the pricing is the issue. Few people can justify a thousand dollar purchase for a device that doesn’t really do anything other devices, like phones and laptops, can do. Lust alone does not cause sales. I live in this world and I’m barely stretching to it. That’s the stance of the masses here. There is a segment of people who can get real work done on an iPad Pro, but I continue to believe that segment is small and almost identical in size to the number of people who were already doing real work on iPad Air.
In fact, the two complaints I have about hardware impact the speed of the iOS user experience. The iPad Pro doesn’t use the second-generation Touch ID sensor employed on the iPhone 6s (Apple confirmed this to me) and the device doesn’t have a 3D Touch display. Lack of second-generation Touch ID makes the unlocking and authentication experience in apps a bit slower than the latest iPhones, but equal to Touch ID on the iPad Air 2. I’d like to see Apple adopting the crazy fast Touch ID sensor on the iPad Pro as well. As for 3D Touch, I struggle to imagine how the one-handed operations of peek and pop would scale to a 12.9-inch tablet, but I know I’ve been missing the ability to access 3D Touch shortcuts on the Home screen.
These are the funny omissions in the otherwise ‘Pro’ hardware. When you call something pro, your expectations are reasonably inflated to have high-end internals. There is a bitter taste for buyers here, where there isn’t just one device where you can get everything that’s new in iOS hardware.
I think super-fast Touch ID isn’t in the Pro for supply-chain reasons. Producing Touch ID sensors has always been a bottleneck for Apple so I’m pretty sure this is the case here. They need every sensor they can get for the millions of iPhone 6s produced every day, so the other devices have to suffer with the scraps and use the first-generation sensors. Note also that the new iPad mini also uses the older Touch ID.
Regarding the lack of 3D Touch in the iPad Pro, I think there’s several factors that add up to Apple skipping it for the first generation. Some of the reasoning is purely qualitative assertions about user experience; ergonomically ramming your finger into something you hold in your lap is nowhere near as satisfying as a phone that you can hold steady upright.
At a technical level, I think adding the 3D Touch force sensors to an iPad Pro is much more complicated than adding it to an iPhone. Why? Because on the iPad Pro, the screen technology is very different due to the need to detect electromagnetic pulses for the Apple Pencil. There are very thin margins in which to fit such components and perhaps it’s technically impossible to add both 3D Touch and Pencil support with Apple’s current engineering methods.
Finally, the omission of 3D Touch is great for product differentiation. The iPhone 6s is all about 3D Touch, every ad mentions how Peek and Pop can change the way you do things on the phone. Frankly, the iPhone is Apple’s flagship product so it almost needs to be ‘more advanced’ than its siblings in some way. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro is marketed along different axes — namely Power and the creative drawing potential of the Apple Pencil. Throwing 3D Touch into the mix alongside the Pencil, which does indeed track pressure but for a whole different purpose, would surely confuse the messaging.
“Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones,” Cook argues in his distinctly Southern accent (he was born in Alabama). He highlights two other markets for his 12.9 inch devices, which go on sale online on Wednesday. The first are creatives: “if you sketch then it’s unbelievable..you don’t want to use a pad anymore,” Cook says.
I think the iPad Pro is a fantastic product concept. A beautifully-large Retina touchscreen with a precise stylus input for drawing and annotations. This is like the coolest Apple product of the year. The lust factor to just get one of these, scribble around in Paper, make some doodles, play some games, is immense. I can’t justify the iPad Pro as a purchase because, for me, it’s a toy.
The iPad Pro has definite utility for many groups of people but not me personally. I can’t realistically get my work done on it, development is out of the question and writing news coverage on iOS is tough.
Covering news requires too much context switching with the need to repeatedly flick between Twitter, Safari tabs, CMS editor, HipChat and more. Doing that on iOS is very annoying, slow, sometimes impossible. Something as simple as copying a paragraph to use it in an article as a quote is extraordinarily difficult to do on an iPad. Compare that to a Mac, where a copy-paste keyboard shortcut can be executed in a fraction of a second.
Moreover, I’m not a good artist. I can’t really draw that well, so the advanced features of the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil as a drawing tablet are lost on me. Doodling with the Pencil is as far as I’d go really, for the novelty and gimmicky entertainment value. Combined, this makes the iPad Pro an expensive toy, for me and my situation. I really want one though.1 If Christmas wish lists stretched to the $800 mark, an iPad Pro would be at the top of mine.
1 By the way, the iPad Pro TV ad is so good. You don’t see the iPad Pro at all until 10 seconds from the end, but it’s an enthralling video with a great soundtrack. Apple’s recent commercials have been stellar.
it goes up and down through the course of a month, but it’s still a pretty fun milestone that we can now say about one in four websites are now powered by the scrappy open source underdog with its roots stretching all the way back to a single person in Corsica, France. We should be comfortably past 25% by the end of the year.
The big opportunity is still the 57% of websites that don’t use any identifiable CMS yet, and that’s where I think there is still a ton of growth for us (and I’m also rooting for all the other open source CMSes).
If you have a Wordpress account, you should log in and just browse around the web a bit, looking for the black WordPress header at the top of pages. The reach of open-source can be truly incredible. It’s insane how often you see it when browsing, on sites that look nothing like WordPress installs at all. It also shows why it is such a common target and attack vector for hackers; find a zero-day exploit in WordPress and you compromise the security of a quarter of the web.
The new Apple TV Netflix app is visually more impressive and perhaps makes discovering new content easier, but navigating to core places in the app is noticeably more difficult. The newer version is a definite step backward in usability from my experience. The main view is split in two parts: a detailed preview on the top half and content navigation on the bottom half. Moreover, the focus is only ever on one row of results at a time. A large Netflix logo hides much of the second row.
Finding the My List section is actually quite hard with the new app. It’s right at the bottom of the list, the 37th row from the top. In fact, My List is located below obscure film collections and series recommendations that Netflix somehow considers more important. Once you discover that it takes several swipes down every time you want to access your saved shows, the new layout on the 4th-gen app feels a lot more limited than its predecessor.
With the old Apple TV, every app was basic but had a baseline user experience and inter-app consistency due to the generic templating system that Apple provided to channel makers. The new Apple TV is like the iPhone; developers have freedom to do whatever they want, present UI however they want. This means the apps can be more capable and more rich than ever before, but it also means media companies have the freedom to screw up and do stuff badly/lazily. The Netflix logo placement in this screenshot is just ridiculous.1
Hopefully, media companies will invest into tvOS app development and this situation will improve. Right now, the best video experience comes from the iTunes Store (expensive) or apps like Plex and Squire, which stream (pirated) TV shows and movies from a network computer or NAS. Just imagine a world where Apple’s interface expertise can be combined with top-rated premium content.
1 Yes, I know that other platforms have the same UI for Netflix and the old Apple TV was the outlier. I don’t really care. It may be closer to the universal experience now, but it is still bad.
We had some tough choices to make. The new platform allowed for two very different ways to build apps, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages. The easiest was TVML, which is a custom markup language evolved from the earlier version present on previous generations of the device. TVML is a markup language for media interfaces, meaning that it’s incredibly easy to make the beautiful screens you’re accustomed to seeing in the Apple apps. On the other hand, they allowed running full native code, which was obviously essential for games, and provided the highest level of control.
We timeboxed two days of prototyping using both technologies, and quickly realized that a beautiful native-looking UI build with the native SDK would take much longer than using TVML. On the other hand, the limitations around the TVML media players led us to want to use our native code from the iOS app.
‘Native’ tvOS apps are way faster and more flexible in what features and functionality you can do, but you don’t get access to a standard TV UI library. Native developers have to reimplement all of the OS-level behaviour themselves, if they want to replicate this which is a lot of redundant work.
This may be a very developer-minded request but what I want Apple to do is add a TVUIKit library to the native app side. This would include things like the system autoscrolling labels and smart headers in collection views. They would effectively be stylised UIKit controls, which don’t really fit in the core cross-device UIKit component library, but are used across tvOS apps. Then, developers don’t have to painstakingly recreate behaviours that you get free with TVML whilst also having the speed and utility benefits of native apps.
Kuo says that the 4-inch iPhone “resembles an upgraded iPhone 5s” and features an A9 processor. The design of the device is somewhat unclear from Kuo’s report, but he hints that it will feature a metal casing as opposed to the plastic design featured on the iPhone 5c.
Regarding the next major iPhone refresh, Kuo says Apple will keep on track with its normal third-quarter unveil and subsequent release of the device. Kuo anticipates that both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 7 will feature Apple’s A10 chip. The two variants of the device will differ, Kuo believes, when it comes to RAM. The analyst expects the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 to feature 2GB of RAM, like the current-gen devices, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus will feature 3GB of RAM.
An introduction of a brand-new iPhone model released early next year is really unprecedented. The Verizon iPhone 4 was launched in February but it doesn’t count as a new model of phone. I criticised Apple’s release schedule in the last two years for focusing too much on the latter half of the year, so it’s refreshing to see a major product launch scheduled for the first-half.1
The language of Kuo’s description of the phone is also interesting. Rather than describing it as a smaller iPhone 6, the report speaks of an ‘upgraded’ iPhone 5s. If true, I think Apple wants to clearly separate this device from the premium 6s and 6s Plus in the lineup. Another idea is that given the pattern of the iPhone lineup, the 2016 flagship iPhone 7 is going to have a drastically-different external appearance. As such, if Apple did match 4-inch phone design-wise with the iPhone 6s, it would only really be relevant for a few months anyway.
Kuo mentions the existence of the iPhone 7 for fall 2016, no surprises there. He suggests that the RAM in the SoC will differ between the 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch variants. To date, there has been no such discrepancies with the 6 or the 6s. I think its too far away for the RAM specs to be set in stone, but it just reminded me of something semi-related. I think the iPhone 7 Plus will have a new screen resolution. Specifically, 2208 × 1242 (up from 1920×1080). This eliminates the inelegant downscaling trickery that the Plus GPU currently has to deal with, as it renders the UI at 2208 × 1242 and then scrunches it down to native screen resolution. The additional RAM might be for this purpose; to support the additional pixels.
1 Kuo says early next year. If you account for random delays, the latest it can launch is June so it’s still spaced out from the new product bonanza in the fall.
Apple TV is a really great product, truly. I think the App Store has launched with a solid library of stuff, more than disproportionate to the number of units Apple will ship in the near term. The Siri Remote touchpad is a great idea and reminds me a lot of the iPod clickwheel: eschewing D-Pad Controls for a digital surface that can flick between a series of list items very quickly.
The touchpad is perhaps even more adaptable than the clickwheel innovation, because if you want to use it like the old remote, you can. Just tap in the corners to move in that direction one item. The tap/click discrepancy is a significant barrier but the interactions make a lot of sense once its ingrained into muscle memory. The tactile response of the remote is fantastic, allowing you to get physical confirmation of actions without having to look down.
tvOS is a great platform too. The appearance is fantastic and once again highlights the embarrassing shortcuts Apple took with the iOS ‘flat’ redesign in large part because of the legacy. The parallax iconography and movie art adds a nice cool factor to sweeten the experience. Whilst these effects are three-dimensional, it is not a flat reinterpretation of a skeuomorphic concept. I also like how tvOS offers some very direct cues to help direct people to learn the ‘new’ touchpad gestures. There are clear arrow indicators signifying where a swipe can do something special, as well as guiding text labels in many places to signpost actions that are non-obvious, like “Slide down for info” or “Press Play/Pause to delete”. There isn’t much ‘mystery meat’ here to trip up on.
There are some odd omissions including a few regressions from the third-gen box. These issues aren’t technical challenges, they just aren’t included in the 1.0 for unknown reasons. Things like no Bluetooth keyboard support, lack of a dictation option for entering text, no Remote app support, no Apple Podcasts app, gimped Siri.
These features are the lowest of low-hanging fruit. I’m sure they will get added in time, however you can only make a first impression once and the damage by not having a few of these things has already been done. Twitter was flooded with complaints about the pains of entering account logins without a Remote app or Bluetooth keyboard pairing.
The lack of a working iOS Remote app is inexcusable; Apple hasn’t even said that an update is coming soon. Whilst it isn’t a feature of the Apple TV itself per se, having a working iPhone Remote app available is a critical feature of the product. If it was a matter of prioritising resources, then the allocation of resources was bad. Shipping features of the fourth-gem Apple TV are less important than the need for a usable Remote app. Password entry is a massive painpoint that everyone who bought an Apple TV on day one has now had to endure. Fixing this a week later does not remove the sour taste of those experiences.
No Siri dictation support for text boxes in tvOS is a stinker too. It’s the most obvious use case in the world that QA and engineers working on the new software must have ran into in testing and yet it ships without it. The frustrating element is the problem is already solved: Apple TV has a mic, Apple TV has Siri1, every other iOS device has dictation for text input. Join the dots, dramatically improve the usability of any Apple TV app with a search experience. It’s mind-boggling that it isn’t included.
1 Note, Siri has to use dictation to know what you are asking it, so the speech-to-text system exists in tvOS. It simply needs to be exposed in the keyboard UI somehow.
The new smartphone game will be “Miitomo”. It will be free to play, with attractive add-ons that people can pay for, Mr. Kimishima says. Other smartphone games will be pay-to-download, he says.
Looks like Miis go ahead and communicate with other Miis without your knowledge. This will help people who are hesitant to talk about themselves to communicate with others, and reveal a side of your friends you never knew, Mr. Kimishima says.
The anticipation was built. Nintendo has been saying its bringing its games to iOS for several months now. The timing was perfect. Apple’s mobile game press conference was set a day before the new Apple TV ships. Unfortunately, what Nintendo showed was not a flagship title at all, it’s a stretch to even call it a game. It’s more like a social messaging app with 3D avatars (the Miis).
It wasn’t what I was hoping for but I also question how well it is going to fare in the market. At least for Western audiences, many companies have tried and failed before Nintendo to galvanise people into running around as 3D avatars in their own virtual world. Perhaps Nintendo has a competitive edge in the Japanese markets to make this successful, I’m not familiar enough with the situation.
What is definitely true is that what I wanted to see did not transpire. However, I remain confident that Nintendo will ship a true honest-to-good game for iPhone eventually. There are five games planned between now until March 2017. Importantly, other games will not be freemium. It makes sense that these would be the ‘AAA titles’ everyone is wanting, likely interconnected with Nintendo’s next-generation NX console that has a mobile component.
When I proposed to my management that Apple should be running its own such servers, and that our devices should use them when the local or ISPDNS servers failed, I was told that the executives would never approve the expense of provisioning and running them. This was around the same time as the company had more money in the bank than the US Government.
Giving someone DNS privileges means giving them a complete record of every website you ever visit, as the job of a DNS server is to translate domain names to web addresses. Apple’s public stance on privacy aligns well with the idea that Apple should run its own DNS, thus automatically pointing your devices’ DNS settings at a trustworthy first-party source. This is exactly what Alf Watt, a former Apple employee, apparently proposed internally to management but it was shot down and canned. Sounds like a good idea to me.
I’m interested to know what AppleCare representatives are trained to say in these kind of scenarios where the best option is to use an alternative DNS server. Do they recommend people use Google’s (126.96.36.199)? That would be pretty bad given the privacy implications at stake.
I tweeted last night that Apple’s resource investment into making the iOS 9 battery investment was worth it solely for the purpose of getting Facebook to improve the efficiency of its iOS app. I think some people took it as a joke, but I meant it seriously.
Changes to how the Facebook app works can effectively be treated as system-level changes because the reach of the app is almost the same as the OS itself. Unlike the Google Play Store, the App Store doesn’t disclose numbers on app installs but Facebook is always high in the top free chart. Multiple analytics companies say Facebook is the #1 downloaded iPhone app of all time.
Having that position of power is interesting scenario for the phone makers. Apple must have been aware of the problems with the Facebook app and it must have annoyed the people in charge of iPhone power-management that a big proportion of their problems are actually accountable to a third-party company they don’t control.
Foundation and UIKit already include hundreds of conditionals to keep the pool of very-popular apps working well so I don’t think its a case of Apple not paying attention, although — granted — these special-case code bits are mostly focused on stopping crashes with popular apps on new version of iOS, not battery efficiency per se. I don’t know what relationship Apple and Facebook have in regard to their iOS apps but it seems like Apple would want as good a relationship as possible for the largest app vendor on iPhone and iPad.
I guess Google has similar connections with Facebook for its Android app; I assume Facebook is the most popular third-party app on Android too. For Microsoft, the significance of Facebook is a big problem because until very recently Facebook showed no interest in making an app for Windows Phone at all. Due to the insane popularity of the social network, Windows Phone suffers a lot without a first-party client.
Microsoft’s solution here is interesting — they have come to an arrangement with Facebook to make an app on their behalf. The official Facebook app for Windows Phone is published by Microsoft. Facebook is so important to a platform that Microsoft uses its engineering resources to write a fully-featured Facebook app for Windows Phone. Its such a socially ingrained thing that the lack of Facebook is a platform deficiency, its existence is more important than most OS features are.
Now, Apple isn’t in the unfortunate position where Facebook can straight up refuse to make an app. There is some give and take, there’s no way Facebook could forgo the users of 500 million iOS devices. This ensure Apple retains power to an extent even if Facebook has a stranglehold that few other developers can exploit. Top games are replaceable. If Apple banned Clash of Clans one day, a million clones would fill the gap. The same isn’t true for Facebook because that’s where your friends are. If you couldn’t access Facebook on iPhone, people would stop using iPhones.
How far could Facebook go before Apple felt the tradeoff was worth it? My guess is that if Facebook started doing something nefarious, Apple would cut it off indirectly with a future software update rather than flat ban the Facebook app. Perhaps, there would be terse discussions in quiet rooms. This mirrors what happened with the Twitter app. Twitter was found to be tracking what apps users had installed by looking up a dictionary of URL schemes. Apple didn’t pull Twitter (despite having sufficient grounds to do so) but it indirectly resolved the problem by changing URL scheme lookup permissions in iOS 9 to prevent any app in the store from doing it going forward. I don’t really have a definitive point, I am simply intrigued by the balance of power. And its topical because of the Facebook battery drain palaver.
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference, Mr. Ramaswamy called for a “sustainable ad standard” that would ensure digital ads don’t use a lot of bandwidth and aren’t “rudely interruptive.”
“This is essential to our survival,” he added, calling recent announcements by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry group, a good start. “We’re talking about getting this in a time frame of months rather than years. We need to get going on this.”
Google execs infamously make some far out claims about the technology industry at large but the same vacuous statements about Google TV don’t transfer across to the online ad industry. Google is the leader, it has the power to enact the changes it pronounces. It doesn’t need to convince a committee of people to form an industry standard, it is the standard.
If the company thinks it has to do something major in online ads to sustain itself, as Ramaswamy’s comments indicate, it can just do it and everyone else will have to follow, as long as Google’s new solution is unequivocally superior.