June 26, 2017

Link: The Tragedy of FireWire ☍

Richard C. Moss for Ars Technica:

Yet FireWire’s principal creator, Apple, nearly killed it before it could appear in a single device. And eventually the Cupertino company effectively did kill FireWire, just as it seemed poised to dominate the industry.

The story of how FireWire came to market and ultimately fell out of favor serves today as a fine reminder that no technology, however promising, well-engineered, or well-liked, is immune to inter- and intra-company politics or to our reluctance to step outside our comfort zone.

As someone who studied media production in the mid-2000s, FireWire was a technology I utilized on a daily basis, along with MiniDV tapes. As an interface, it always felt more civilized than USB, especially as it was so closely associated with Apple (and I know the iMac helped bring USB to the masses). Still, this is a great look back at the development of the interface and its ultimate demise.

Link: The MacBook Adorable ☍

Casey Liss reviews the MacBook:

I’m not here to discuss tomorrow; I’m here to discuss today. Today, I feel handcuffed every time I use an iPad. Even for the things I can accomplish, I have to jump through flaming hoops in order to do so. It’s not for me.

What I really want (what I really really want) is an iPad-sized device, with all the portability it provides, but with none of the drawbacks of, well, actually being an iPad.

There’s a lot to take from the review, as beyond the hardware itself, Liss touches on the idea of finding the right tool for the job. A lot of people need a computer like a Mac or PC to get work done, and it’s great that Apple is still building machines that can accomplish these tasks.

It’s really easy for people using a Mac to condemn the iPad-only crowd or vice-versa, but truthfully, more options are great. If there’s a Mac as convenient (minus cellular capability) to travel with as an iPad, that’s pretty remarkable and may have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Link: Charging the Apple Pencil: Failed Design or Genius? ☍

Brian Renshaw:

Sure, it does look of ridiculous but when you are out in a coffee shop or in a meeting and you need to charge your Apple Pencil the last thing you want to do is pull out a charger plus a dongle to quick charge the device. Plus, when I leave the house to do some writing I just want to grab my iPad, which has an all day charge. I never need to think about bringing a charger with my iPad. I really don’t want to think about bringing a charger or even making sure my Apple Pencil is charged before I go out. The genius of the design is that I can insert the Apple Pencil in my iPad and charge it. A 5-minute charge always gives me plenty of juice for the rest of my session (actually a 15-second charge gives you 30 minutes!). At the very least, if I get up to go to the restroom or take a quick walk I can plug in the pencil and when I return it is good to go.

I don’t use my Apple Pencil nearly as much as I’d like, but any time that I do need a quick charge when I’m away from any wall charging mechanism, I’m reminded how good of an option using the iPad’s Lightning port can be. It may be a bit awkward, but there’s an often-overlooked convenience factor.

June 17, 2017

Link: Microsoft Thinks They Invented the iPad Pro ☍

Eduardo Maggio for Business Insider:

Microsoft general manager for Surface Ryan Gavin said that the iPad Pro is a “clear example” of Apple following Microsoft rather than the other way around, in an interview with Business Insider.

“Think about it, if we had been looking at [Apple] we wouldn’t have made a product like Surface Pro or Surface Book,” Gavin said. “We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but] when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.”

People have been attaching Bluetooth keyboard cases to the iPad from almost the time the first iPad went on sale in 2010. In fact, Apple had offered a desktop-based keyboard accessory for the first iPad at launch (it connected with a 30-pin Dock Connector and the iPad sat in portrait mode). People have also been using styli, arguably terrible ones, for years, too. The fact that some at Microsoft has the attitude that the iPad Pro is playing catch-up to the Surface line is a bit ridiculous.

In the post-Ballmer world, Microsoft has done some great things, notably cloud services and iOS apps. While Surface devices are quite popular, they’re still traditional PCs masquerading as tablets—many users only use them with the keyboard and Windows 10 is still a desktop-first operating system. The iPad has gained more capabilities and power, but has not morphed into a weirdly-convertible Mac. Even with iOS 11, it’s still not macOS. If Microsoft wants to be a leader by Gavin’s argument, they’d find a way to do something completely different with their operating system, rather than trying to support so much legacy items.

June 10, 2017

Link: In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store ☍

John Gruber on Johnny Lin’s investigation into scammy, bogus apps in the App Store:

But do-nothing anti-virus utilities that are scamming people into $100/week subscriptions? That’s downright criminal.

Lin shows that “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN” is not alone. The productivity top-grossing list is riddled with similar scam apps.

Given how many legitimate developers are still having problems getting their apps approved due to seemingly capricious App Store reviewer decisions, it’s doubly outrageous that these apps have made their way onto the store in the first place. These are the exact sort of apps that the App Store review process should be primarily looking to block.

And there is no excuse for Apple not having flagged them after the fact, once they started generating significant revenue. It’s downright mind boggling that this horrendous “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN” app made it all the way into the top 10 without getting flagged.

This is the App Store at its worst and inexcusable for Apple to have let this happen and continue.