Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

My answers to my askATP question

I’ve recently started listening to ATP. I’m enjoying the three hosts slightly different takes on things. Somehow they each have just enough of a different perspective to make their conversations – and particularly their angst – entertaining.

I sent in a question and on their most recent episode they graciously spent a considerable amount of time answering it.

My question was: What tech, outside of Apple, are you most happy with currently (or, bonus: excited about in the near future)?

I suggest you listen to their responses. Jeremy Brown shared an Overcast link (which is built by Marco Arment, one of the hosts) that allows you to listen to the moment they begin to answer the question.

Here are my answers, as if I was on their podcast and had to quickly answer the question. I’ve jotted down this entire blog post in just a few minutes.

Most happy with currently:

  • Computational photography – My Pixel 2 XL’s capability with a single, tiny lens makes me happy. I’m looking forward to the Pixel 4 but even after two years I’m delighted by the results each day.
  • Google Lens – I use this far more often than I ever thought I would. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl. You can “Google” anything by pointing your camera at it.

Excited about in the near future:

  • Autonomous driving – I know this is controversial. But I don’t think it is arguable that human beings are terrible drivers. There will be a difficult period when there is a mix of human and robot drivers, but the quicker we get to all bots the more lives we save.
  • Micromobility – Personal transport is on the rise. More individual humans will use this than autonomous driving but since I live in a rural area I think I’m slightly more interested in autonomous driving.
  • AR in glasses – We’ve seen this in fits and starts. It is coming. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft – they are all pushing hard and investing billions. It is coming and I honestly would love it. Not for games though… I want any size screen at any time.

Thanks to Casey, Marco, and John for answering my question.

The importance of WWDC 2019


Whether I’ll like the outcome or not, the cards are stacked for Apple to weigh in heavily on all these things (including possibly by inaction, to focus much more on iOS) come Monday. If optimism left me easily, I would be typing this on a capable PC laptop instead (although possibly swearing equally at a UWP Windows future). But I am holding my breath, because one way or another, when all of WWDC has been summed up, we’ll be able to look back at it and say that it was the moment where everything finally, ultimately, irrevocably changed.

This WWDC, which starts today, seems to be the most important one since the App Store debuted. I wonder if Apple feels it as well or is it just the entire community wondering whether or not they will be using Macs in a decade? Today could tell us that.

/via Marco Arment on Twitter.

Overcast adds clip sharing

Marco Arment:

With today’s 2019.4 update, you can now share audio or video clips, up to a minute each, from any public podcast. Simply tap the share button in the upper-right corner.

This is an excellent feature. Though I’m currently on Android and using Pocket Casts (which is very good as well) I figured I’d link to this since he’s built it in the most conscientious way I can think of.

If you’re on iOS and haven’t tried Overcast I recommend you do.

Marco Arment on needed watchOS updates

Marco Arment:

But limitations in watchOS 4 make it impossible to deliver standalone podcast playback with the basic functionality and quality that people expect.

His post focused on updates that are needed for podcast apps to make sense on watchOS.

After using the Apple Watch Series 3 while traveling for the weekend I expect to see a massive OS update from Apple in watchOS 4.1 and 4.2 to enable much more capabilities for developers through APIs. The Series 3 is not being fully tasked by the third-party apps currently. Not by a long shot.

Overcast 3

Marco Arment just released version 3 of Overcast, the podcast player I use on my phone every single day. I like this bit in the update:

No closed-source code will be embedded in Overcast anymore, and I won’t use any more third-party analytics services. I’m fairly confident that Apple has my back if a government pressures them to violate their customers’ rights and privacy, but it’s wise to minimize the number of companies that I’m making that assumption about.

Marco has always put his money where his mouth is. This is just another demonstration of that.

iPad sales

Marco Arment posits the idea that, maybe, the iPad isn’t the future of computing based on the fact that sales are down year-over-year again. He writes:

What if, like so much in technology, it’s mostly just additive, rather than largely replacing PCs and Macs, and furthermore had a cooling-fad effect as initial enthusiasm wore off and customers came to this conclusion?

I don’t think this is the case. I do believe the iPad, or something like it, is the future of computing. And I’m personally just as enthusiastic about it as a product as I was when I bought the original iPad. I use my iPad every single day.

As an aside: I think the Surface Book is certainly in the running to be the traditional PC replacement. This category is getting harder to define. What is a tablet? What is a laptop? The Surface Book surely fits into both. And, arguably, Apple’s own Macbook is getting more iPad-like with each release. Less ports, thinner, lighter. Laptops and tablets may become indistinguishable at some point.

Why the sales decrease? I agree with John Gruber:

The peak years (2013 and 2014) were inflated because it was an untapped market. Steve Jobs was right, there was room for a new device in between a phone and a laptop, and the iPad was and remains an excellent product in that space. But people don’t need to keep buying new iPads. I think the replacement cycle is clearly much more like that of laptops than that of phones. This was not obvious to me at the time, but it seems obvious now.

I’ve owned 3 iPads and my wife 2. In the same amount of time we’ve owned 6 iPhones each. iPads simply do not require updating nearly as often as iPhones. We both currently have iPads (iPad Air 2 for me, iPad Pro for her) and we likely won’t be updating for a few more years at least.

I don’t think sales are the right metric to track the success of the iPad but rather marketshare in tablets which, again, is an increasingly tough category to define.

Twitter is not a replacement for blogs

Marco Arment:

Too much of my writing in the last few years has gone exclusively into Twitter. I need to find a better balance.


By knocking down a few walls and moving some furniture around, blogging is preparing for a comeback, and we’ll all be better off for it.

Related: this, this, and this.