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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

John Gruber on Apple Watch Series 3

John Gruber:

Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular networking completely alleviates this anxiety. It is not a replacement for a phone, and is not supposed to be. But it lets you leave your phone at home when you go for a run, or in your locker while you’re at the gym, or in your hotel while you go to the beach, and not worry in the least that you’re out of touch.

I can’t remember a time I’ve been so excited to not have my phone.

Reviews are beginning to trickle in – both in text and on YouTube – and I’ve been paying close attention. The Apple Watch clearly isn’t for everyone. And cellular is for even less people. But overall, people love the watch.

Eliza has had a Series 0* since they day they came out. She wears it nearly every day, it is her only watch at this point, and she’s using it more and more as the software gets better. So Apple is definitely iterating in the proper direction. It reminds me so much of the original iPhone (even the way it is aging) I can’t even describe it.

I’ve never used an Apple Watch** but I’m excited to try one. I’ll be sure to let you know how necessary the device is once I’ve had it for a month or two.

John also mentions that he’d like to see a camera and an always-on display in an upcoming version of the Apple Watch. If there was one more feature that I could request of the Apple Watch it would be the always-on display. Perhaps a forward-facing camera for Facetime makes a lot of sense but I do not think I’d ever expect the Apple Watch to have a camera you’d take vacation photos with. Unless, of course, you’re a spy – then obviously you need the camera in the watch to take photos of Top Secret documents.

* Believe it or not, the Series 3 is actually Apple’s fourth iteration of the Apple Watch hardware. It is likely very confusing to people that don’t pay close attention to these things. The current offerings are Apple Watch Series 1, Series 3, and Series 3 with cellular. It sounds as if Series 1 is very old compared to the 3 but in reality it is only about a year old. Apple hasn’t been doing very well with names lately.

** Obviously I’ve toyed with Eliza’s. In fact, recently I’ve been putting it through its paces in the evenings learning the menus and options in preparation for when I get my Series 3. They’ve made the watch very customizable.

Repost: Daring Fireball on the iPhone X notch

👉 John Gruber:

Long story short: embrace the notch.

Add favicons to tabs in Safari

Faviconographer:

Faviconographer is a little utility that displays Favicons for the tabs you have opened in the current Safari window, just like almost every other browser does it.

Magic.

/via Daring Fireball.

Daring Fireball at 15

John Gruber:

15 years ago this week, I started Daring Fireball with this piece on a then-new lineup of PowerMac G4’s.

I’ve been subscribed to Daring Fireball since that first post. In fact, I’m a card-carrying member (when John was selling Memberships) and have more than one t-shirt. DF has set the standard for what blogging is on many fronts and I’ve linked to countless pieces from him.

Fifteen-years is a fantastic milestone to hit and I look forward to at least 30 more years of DF before John hangs up his clicky keyboard. Thanks John.

Favicons on tabs in browsers

John Gruber:

With many tabs open, there’s really nothing subjective about it: Chrome’s tabs are more usable because they show favicons.

Like John, I’m currently a Safari user. I switched to Chrome for a bit due to the Developer tools being a bit better at the time but, as you may know, I’m trying to go all in on Apple. Safari is just better all around when on the Mac, iPhone, or iPad*.

I totally agree, though, with everything John says in his piece. Go read the entire thing.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in his piece though is Safari’s “Show all tabs” view. If you have a ton of tabs open it can be very useful to use the Show all tabs button to view them all and find the one you’re looking for. This feature alone will not pull Chrome users over to Safari but at least it is something.

* Currently iCloud tabs are not working at all for me on the Mac. But I’m guessing that may be due to me using the iOS 11 betas on both iPhone and iPad and I am not using a beta of macOS High Sierra.

Their own technology

Garrett Sloane for AdAge:

Apple News will let top media partners use their own technology to fill the ad space in their content, becoming more of an extension of the publishers’ own websites than the walled-off island it is now, the people said.

At first I thought those that were linking to this have this wrong. But, the way it is written it appears that Apple is going to allow publishers to embed their own ad technology within their content to allow them to sell their ads within content that appears in the Apple News app.

I cannot believe Apple would allow this. This is a leak, of course, so the details are thin. But I can see it only going a few ways.

In one scenario, the leak is wrong (or poorly written) and Apple will allow publishers to use their own technology (meaning Apple’s) to sell ads. So, they can use Apple’s own ad platform to sell the ad inventory found within their own content within the app. This totally makes sense.

In another scenario, the leak is somewhat right in that Apple will allow publishers to use their own technology (meaning the publisher’s) to sell ads but with a ton of restrictions. This wouldn’t be ideal but I’m sure publishers would appreciate having a lot more control. Apple has stated multiple times how they are committed to privacy so they cannot allow the same tracking scripts in use on today’s web within their app. And, I can’t imagine they’d want to rely on outside dependencies – like the myriad of ad platform infrastructures – that could diminish the responsiveness of their app.

In the last scenario, the leak is 100% correct and Apple News will become a cesspool.

Since I use Apple News every single day, multiple times per day, I hope it is the first scenario.

/via Daring Fireball.

Colin Walker on blogrolls

Colin Walker:

Part of the problem with people based following models on social networks is that you follow the whole person so see everything they post whether it is relevant to you or not. There is no filtering system.

He goes on to mention that blogrolls that also supply an OPML file make it quick to subscribe via RSS to all of the blogs in the roll. Then, that person can determine whether or not to keep each subscription based on the value they get from them.

I can see that. But, I still go back to my original thought on this. If I subscribe to a bunch of blogs (and I do) and then I link to individual posts that I think are interesting, then I’m acting as a curator for my subscribers. This is why Kottke, Daring Fireball, and Waxy are so popular. They highlight some of the most interesting content, discussions, or resources they’ve found on the web. I do not intend to try to be as focused as Daring Fireball or as prolific as Kottke, but if I find something interesting I enjoy linking to them and giving my thoughts. If I really think something is worth discussing then I will link to it in an individual post.

If you subscribe to my blog and notice I’m routinely linking to a particular source (like Colin Walker) you may consider hopping over to your nearest feed reader and subscribing to his site as well.

Walker also mentions that anecdotal evidence suggests that people using RSS or JSON Feed to subscribe to blogs is on the rise. I’m seeing that too. And I’m very happy about it.

Claim Chowder: The Talk Show live at WWDC 2017 video

John Gruber:

This year we are not going to attempt to stream live video. Instead we’re going to work hard to get edited video of the event up on the web as soon as possible after the show is over. If you just can’t wait, listen to the live audio. If you want to see the show, wait for the video — it should be up some time on Wednesday at the latest.

It is Thursday John! 🙂

I’m just having fun with John, of course. For those that aren’t longtime readers of Daring Fireball you can catch his claim chowder throughout the years. I know how hard it is to turn around a quality video in that amount of time. I’m just being impatient because I want to see John interview Schiller and Hair Force One.

Update: It is out now! And it is excellent.

John Gruber on JSON Feed

John Gruber:

The DF RSS feed isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re already subscribed to it, there’s no need to switch. But JSON Feed’s spec makes it possible for me to specify both a url that points to the post on Daring Fireball (i.e. the permalink) and an external_url that points to the article I’m linking to. The way I’ve dealt with that in the RSS (technically Atom, but that’s sort of beside the point) is a bit of a hack that’s caused problems with numerous feed readers over the years.

John has linked to a slew of things this week re: JSON Feed so run over to Daring Fireball (increase the font size a few bumps) and catch up.

He mentions an interesting advantage of JSON Feed’s spec that I hadn’t thought of. DF Style Links, which are Daring Fireball’s way of linking to things wherein the headline is the link to the story and somewhere in the body is the link to Daring Fireball’s permalink, throws many feed readers for a loop. As I’ve switched feed readers over the years I’ve had to practically beg the developers to make small tweaks for Daring Fireball’s feed. In the beginning (early 2000s) that was harder than now as John’s blog is massively popular. Looks like JSON Feed makes it a bit easier.

Removing the pro from Apple

John Gruber regarding Sal Soghoian being axed from Apple:

If they had simply fired him, that’d be one thing, but the fact that they’ve eliminated his position is another. This is shitty news. I find this to be a profoundly worrisome turn of events for the future of the Mac. I hope I’m wrong.

I noted this on Twitter without any comment. But I’m slowly seeing us pros being shown the door at Apple and Sal is just further evidence of this.

When Dan Kimbrough and I were at the Apple Store last week to look at the new MacBook Pro we were speaking to a retail store employee who, after hearing how we use computers said, “Oh, you are a ‘Pro User’“. He said it in such a way that made me think we weren’t welcome. Dan felt it too. He said so immediately as we were walking out the door.

My thinking is this; the consumer market is enormous compared to the pro market. Yes, there is a lot of money in Enterprise but Apple doesn’t consider themselves an Enterprise company. They slowly stopped chasing that dream long ago. Remember the X-Serve? Now, they are also slowly backing away from the pro market as well. Their entire business, for decades, was built on top of those that use Photoshop and Illustrator to do their work. Then, with their switch to a Unix-based OS, they picked up a ton of us that do programming for a living. But now they are removing ports and power in favor of small and thin. And they aren’t updating their beast of a computer either. And, to top of off, they eliminated a position at Apple that was arguably a very important part of why pro people could use macOS.

We keep asking Apple if they are going to leave the Mac behind. And they keep saying no. What we should be asking is if they are going to be leaving the professional users of the Mac behind.

This does not mean I think this is the wrong strategy for Apple. Apple is chasing revenue. They will sell more Macs to “normals” by making them as approachable, thin and light as possible. It just happens to not be the right strategy for me to continue using the Mac. So I’m making the jump to Windows 10. We’ll see if I’ve made the right decision in three years or so.

A tablet and a notebook in one

John Gruber:

To me, an iPad in notebook mode — connected to a keyboard cover — is so much less nice than a real notebook. And the difference is more stark when compared to a great notebook, like these MacBook Pros. There are advantages to the tablet form factor, but no tablet will ever be as nice as a notebook as these MacBook Pros. I also prefer MacOS over iOS for, well, “doing work”. I think I’m more productive on a Mac than I am on an iPad. I can’t prove it, but even if I’m wrong, the fact that I feel like it’s true matters. I always feel slightly hamstrung working on an iPad. I never do on a Mac (at least once I’ve got it configured with all the apps and little shortcuts, scripts, and utilities I use).

I totally agree with John. An iPad does not feel as nice as a MacBook. I’ve owned both devices and used them both daily for years. And I, like him, feel much less productive on an iPad than on a notebook computer like the MacBook. I used my iPad for reading, watching videos, and doing light work-related tasks like note taking at a client meeting. But for real work I grabbed my MacBook and, preferably, connected it to a display.

But what if you could have both? What if you could have both a tablet and a notebook in one? And what if all of the work that you do on the notebook could be possible on the tablet? I’ll be writing much more about my experiences with the new Surface Book with Performance Base in the coming weeks (I have only had mine three days and I want to get a little more comfortable with it prior to a proper review) but I can say this – without hesitation – the Surface Book is the marriage of the iPad and the MacBook and I’m loving it.

I read John’s post with the Clipboard portion (read: the display) of the Surface Book and was compelled to write this post. So I docked the display on the keyboard and began typing. Not because I couldn’t have used the on-screen keyboard, but more because I’m much quicker with a full computer. I have all of my shortcuts and customizations. The small little things that make more far more productive.

And, let’s not forget the actual reason John gave for feeling “hamstrung” while using the iPad – it is the software. The operating system. With my new Surface Book I’m running Windows 10 in desktop mode when docked to the Performance Base and in tablet mode when detached from it. But, in both situations I have my data, my customization, my small tweaks, my multitasking capabilities, etc. It truly is the best of both worlds.

I’ve long written on this blog that I believe Microsoft’s vision of one operating system for both contexts is better than Apple’s two-OS approach. John disagrees with me on this. And I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer but there certainly is a preference. My preference is to keep my “power user” stuff at my fingertips for when I need them but to hide them when I don’t. The Surface Book does this.

I’m truly enjoying this device and I’m very much looking forward to sharing more about my switch back from the Mac to Windows 10. But for now I’m going to detach my display and get back to watching YouTube videos on my couch.

Hey, umm, Siri?

I was happy this week to see that the topic of how far behind Siri is came up on many tech blogs. It is a topic I’ve thought, but not wrote, a lot about. In 2012 Siri was ahead on ability, but behind on speed. Earlier in 2016, prior to WWDC, I wrote a WWDC wish list and in it I wrote that I had hoped:

I hope Siri can do a lot more – I think we’re overdue on being able to say things like “Hey Siri, send the photo I just took to my wife.” Or “Hey Siri, open Spotify and play Jack White’s Blunderbuss.” Or “Hey Siri, find a note in Simplenote that I created on May 15th”. Or, even, “Hey Siri, show me all of the photos I’ve taken in Hawaii.”

Based on what I saw at WWDC I thought I was going to get some of these things. But I was wrong. There are a few things that Siri has improved in iOS 10 but overall it seems that it is falling further and further behind with every announcement from Apple’s competitors.

Even without any competition from other companies I still think Siri should be better than it is. The examples I gave above should already be possible. I’ve had some notes regarding a few queries that I thought Siri should be able to handle by now but she cannot and so I’d like to take one of those and add them to my wish list.

“Hey Siri, how long until it rains?”

This query would be huge for me personally. I use and open Dark Sky at least twice a day. Because I hike and kayak and go for a jog outdoors I like to know, as accurately as possible, when it will start raining. Do I have 30 minutes to get in a quick jog? Or do I have a few hours to go kayaking? I’d like to know and it’d be convenient for me if Siri could tell me.

Walt Mossberg:

For me, at least, and for many people I know, it’s been years. Siri’s huge promise has been shrunk to just making voice calls and sending messages to contacts, and maybe getting the weather, using voice commands.

Why are people only using it for these things? John Gruber explains:

The big problem Apple faces with Siri is that when people encounter these problems, they stop trying. It feels like you’re wasting your time, and makes you feel silly or even foolish for having tried.

Even if Siri has gotten better no one will know because they’ve already given up. I know in a lot of cases I have. And that may be a harder hurdle for Apple to jump over than simply improving Siri’s capabilities.

 

App Store Subscriptions

Yesterday the news hit of Apple’s changes to App Store policies and features including allowing developers to leverage Subscriptions for their applications so that they can better make a living making great apps.

This, from John Gruber’s coverage at Daring Fireball:

Now, subscription-based pricing will be an option for anysort of app, including productivity apps and games. This is an entirely new business model for app developers — one that I think will make indie app development far more sustainable.

Some of you reading this may wonder why this is important and some of the coverage doesn’t really lay it out.

As it stands, for most apps in the store, you pay once and get upgrades for as long as the developer can afford to give them. Some applications, but not all, require constant maintenance. Perhaps they run a syncing service so that your information is available across all devices or platforms. Perhaps the services they are built on top of change a lot and so app updates are needed often to keep the app working. Or, perhaps they offer new content (like game levels, or editorials, or videos, etc.) and to support the creation of that content they need money.

All apps require updates a few times a year as iOS releases and new Apple devices are released.

The problem right now is… developers need money to continue coming in over time to build and update great apps. The “pay once, get updates for free forever” model, isn’t sustainable for apps that do not offer in-app purchases.

As a consumer of these apps (and you’d know this if you’ve read this blog for a long time) I want to pay for upgrades. When Tweetbot was released as a wholly different app to skirt around the limitations of App Store policy, I gladly ponied up. I use the app daily. I want it to continue working. So I will pay. There are other apps that I wish did the same thing.

I know there is a bit of confusion at the moment about exactly what apps are eligible for this or not. There is always confusion when a change like this is introduced. It’ll all shake it out. I’m very happy to see this change and look forward to supporting my favorite apps with my money. It means I’ll get to continue to use them.