Podcast 17: Worrying Apple trends with Russell Ivanovic

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Guest Russell Ivanovic joins me to discuss a variety of Apple's not-so-great recent trends. We dig into a great many of the warts increasingly appearing around Apple's ecosystem, including the experience when first running a device, the less than universally acclaimed new Apple TV remote, the stagnant App Store and app review process, general product stability and more.

We also chat about Apple's ever expanding and confusing product lines, Jony Ive's accountability, as well as discussing Apple's trend to make their cheapest product versions less appealing than was previously the case.

This episode is brought to you by my app Action Launcher 3. Go on, leave me a nice review!

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15: 📚The state of traditional Android device manufacturers with Charles Arthur

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Influential journalist Charles Arthur joins me for a discussion on the lay of the land for Android's traditional OEMs. Inspired by Charles' Premium Android hits the wall post, we dig into the revenues and shipments of these Android devices, dig into why these devices are collectively seeing a declining market share, as well as Apple's position in the market and the potential future implications for premium Android devices.

This episode is brought to you by Action Launcher 3 for Android. Go on, leave me a review (I like the number 5).

14: 📰Apple's September '15 event with Ben Sandofsky

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Supreme iOS/Mac engineer and Apple aficionado Ben Sandofsky joins me to break down Apple's September 2015 event. We dig into all the details of the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV announcements, with detailed discussion on why the iPad Pro was even necessary, the Internet's reaction to the Apple Pencil, the types of games we may and may not see on Apple TV, our fears for 3D Touch and more.

We also give our initial impressions of what was the most unexpected and perhaps bigggest announcement, that of the iPhone Upgrade Program, as well as discussing iCloud's stingy data caps, the 16GB base model iPhone and whether Apple's vastly increased product count and increasinly long keynotes are a worrying sign for the company.

To close out the show, Ben gives some insight into his time as a technical advisor for HBO's Silicon Valley series.

Follow Ben on Twitter: @sandofsky

Apple desperately needs to split official apps from iOS updates

Owen Wilson:

It’s a crazy backwards policy to require entire point releases, like iOS 8.4 for Apple Music’s release, for adding or updating individual apps.

Such a system slows down progress from Apple until major changes are available, leaving users in the lurch for weeks or months longer than necessary for fairly trivial fixes.

App developers, like Medium and Slack, are able to throw bug fixes and quick tweaks out the door as soon as they have them. Users automatically get the latest, without even knowing it in many cases.

I've lost count of how many times I've mentioned this over the years. Apple's system of requiring a system update and in turn a device restart to fix even the slightest issue with any of their apps is just madness.

Wilson's entire piece is one of those "I agree with every word" articles for me, and I suggest reading the whole thing, but I'll leave with this:

Apple is seen to be moving too slowly with development of important bundled apps, like Maps, Podcasts and Music, because it simply can’t push entire system updates for such small content frequently without upsetting users.

App developers have the tools to rapidly iterate their creations, but Apple is suffocating its own products back by not ripping those apps out from the core of iOS and iterating faster.

Apple Music three weeks on

Jim Dalrymple on Apple Music at launch:

I’m damned impressed. Apple Music is a quality service, with the right mix of human curation and algorithms to help users figure out exactly what they want to hear.

I can only imagine that the service will get better from here. The more I use it, like/dislike songs, the better it will know me.

I was interacting with Apple Music the entire time I was writing this and the radio station I started listening to improved quite a bit in those hours. I’m not skipping songs, instead I have a steady diet of Slash, Godsmack, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica. It’s hard to beat that.

While other streaming services didn’t worry much about Apple in the past, Apple Music will get their attention. In fact, it’s going to grab everyone’s attention.

The same Jim Dalrymple on Apple Music three weeks on:

At some point, enough is enough. That time has come for me—Apple Music is just too much of a hassle to be bothered with. Nobody I’ve spoken at Apple or outside the company has any idea how to fix it, so the chances of a positive outcome seem slim to none.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

I trusted my data to Apple and they failed. I also failed by not backing up my library before installing Apple Music. I will not make either of those mistakes again.

I’m going to listen to what’s left of my music library, and try to figure out all of the songs I have to buy again. I’ll also download Spotify and reactivate the account I cancelled with them a couple of weeks ago.

Who'd have thought Apple Music itself would turn out worse than its horrific introductory keynote segment?

The mobile web sucks, but a great many websites aren't helping the cause

Nilay Patel's piece of the state of the mobile web. I agree with much of it.

Certainly I strongly agree with a point Patel only briefly touched up, which relates to Apple's iOS terms that explicitly prevent developers from bringing a custom web engine to the platform. I.e., Chrome is available for iOS, but Google are forced to use Apple's web rendering engine for displaying the web content. Google are explicitly forbidden from using Blink, their custom rendering engine that powers Chrome on all other platforms (including OS X) on iOS.

I think this restriction is egregious and overzealous on Apple's part, and absolutely harms the mobile web.

But by no means do I agree with all of Patel's piece.

Apps have become nearly irrelevant on desktops because the web experience is close to perfect, while apps are vitally important on phones because the web experience is dismal.

What the what? Certainly I'd agree it's conceivable we might be a path where desktop apps become nearly irrelevant, but by no means are we close to there yet.

Finally, this:

The new old iPod Nano

 
 

John Gruber on the new iPod Nano:

Very curious: the UI still looks iOS 6-style.

UPDATE: Word from a few little birdies is that what remains of the iPod software team is now working on Apple Watch — the Nano UI wasn’t updated to look like iOS 7 because there’s no one left to do it.

Releasing a new piece of hardware that eschews a now two-year old UI redesign sure feels more like something you'd expect from Samsung rather than Apple. Actually, Samsung probably wouldn't even do that. This is more the move you expect from one of those low-end manufactuers that sell $40 phones at grocery store checkouts.

Force Touch expected on this year's iPhones

The changes in the iPhone models expected to be released later this year will be less noticeable than last year’s. The phones are expected to feature Apple’s Force Touch technology that can distinguish between a light tap and deep press, allowing users to control a device differently depending on how hard they push on the screen, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple has added this feature to the Apple Watch and MacBook laptop computer.

I can see merit with Force Touch when used with trackpad on a MacBook for certain applications. But I greatly dislike Force Touch on the Apple Watch in every interaction I've had with it, simply because I never know if engaging Force Touch will do anything. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. To me, Force Touch is bad for all the reasons Android's Menu was bad.

It almost feels like someone at Apple looked at the non-back lit Menu button on the Galaxy S3 and thought "what if we take this hidden interface mechanism that when triggered may or may not do anything and allow developers to do that everywhere?!".

Android ditched the Menu button for a reason, and app usability is undoubtedly better for it. If all Apple do is bring the Watch's Force Touch to the iPhone, I think there's a real risk this will simply lead to app mechanics becoming much more obfuscated and in turn interaction becoming much more complicated.

Clearly Apple think the value to be gained from adding Force Touch to their most popular product will outweigh any potential negatives. We'll see how it plays out.

New Yorker: Apple versus Google

Om Malik:

Still, one can’t help but wonder whether Apple backed into their position on privacy. As a cynic, I don’t think that Apple truly has a genuinely profound concern for the issue. Very little in their past would suggest that this is something they care about to the core. They’re a company that has always understood hardware, not software, and they’re fumbling as software becomes something defined by data and cloud and constant connectivity. Google’s view is a post-Internet ideology, and Apple, confused and slightly threatened, is falling back on an argument about privacy.

I personally have a lot of time for Apple seemingly taking a strong stand for user privacy. But I do agree that their position feels somewhat convenient given they still seem outmatched compared to Google when it comes to services, data crunching and the like.

And I also agree there's every chance Apple will have to walk their position back to some degree at some point (likely as a fully anonymized and opt-in way).

Reported iOS security issue goes unfixed for 6 months

Ernst and Young forensic bod Jan Soucek has created a tool capable of generating slick iCloud password phishing emails he says exploits an unpatched bug affecting millions of Apple users.

Later:

"It was filed under Radar #19479280 back in January, but the fix was not delivered in any of the iOS updates following 8.1.2."

What good is Apple's privacy stance if they fail to fix reported security breaches?