October 9, 2015

Link: A List of All the Things iCloud Syncs ☍

David Chartier:

Apple tells you a number of things that iCloud syncs between devices in Settings (or System Preferences) > iCloud, such as Photos, Contacts, and Reminders. But I’ve noticed a number of other OS-level things that sync between my devices (presumably through iCloud), but Apple doesn’t seem to keep a central, comprehensive list. Let’s make one.

October 7, 2015

Link: The Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator Monopoly ☍

Jack Smith IV for Mic:

Technology has not yet killed the reliable old TI-83. Nearly 20 years later, students are still forced to use a prohibitively expensive piece of outdated technology. It’s not because better tools aren’t available; they exist, and some of them are even free. It’s because Texas Instruments, the company that creates them, has a staggering monopoly in the field of high school mathematics. The American education system is addicted to Texas Instruments.

I had a TI-83 Plus, later replaced by a TI-86. At the time, a handheld computer based on technology from about a decade before seemed magical to middle-school-aged me. Now, I’m shocked that there really haven’t been any advances, mostly for the sake of standardized testing and these are about the same price (not counting inflation). I seem to recall that tests like the SAT and ACT didn’t allow for devices with QWERTY keyboards or touch screens, so that could also play a big role. Regardless, this is a market that probably should change, but won’t.

October 4, 2015

Link: What’s Worse Than Paid App Updates? ☍

Dan Edwards:

Recently Tweetbot 4 was released as a cross-platform update that’ll work on iPad &iPhone. Right now (at 50% off), it’s a $4.99/£3.99 app. Regardless of whether you bought the old Tweetbot recently, or at all.

Some people were pretty angry about this…

I agree with his assessment (go ahead and read the post), as Apple has created an environment for the expectation of one-time app purchases with upgrades for life. This is simply not sustainable for developers, especially small shops. With the amount of time and work that developers put in, I think asking $5 or $10 every so often for a new version quality product that runs on iPhones and iPads is more than reasonable, especially if you use it all the time. Supporting developers is how everyone can ensure that quality products continue to be made and we don’t end up with a ton of ad-supported, customer-disrespecting junk. Besides that, if you have the old version, it’s probably going to keep working for the foreseeable future (unless Twitter changes the API), so nobody is forcing you to get the new version.

September 30, 2015

Link: You Can’t Do That On [Apple] TV! ☍

iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens:

Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart. But we’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA—and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.

A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions—and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit’s app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken “actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program.”

Live and learn.

I’m sure there will be people blaming Apple for this, but the developer Apple TV units had a fairly specific non-disclosure agreement. While I am a fan of iFixit’s work as a whole, the Apple TV teardown probably should’ve waited a month or so.

“We still compete today, but Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than they compete on…Partnering with Microsoft is great for our customers. That’s the reason we do it. I’m not a believer in holding grudges.”

September 28, 2015

Link: Digital Catch-Up at Tribune ☍

Lynne Marek for Crain’s Chicago Business interviews Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin (via Stephen Hackett):

Holding the paper up, he said: “I could be wrong, but I don’t think that this entirely goes away. I think there’s enough about it—the experience that’s sufficiently different with both the advertising and the editorial. I mean, how do you do that online?” He answers his own question later: “That’s really hard to do online or on a phone.” […]

He said he expects young people, like his 20-something sons, will continue to gravitate to newspapers, even print editions. As they move into adulthood and begin to care more about settling into a community, they’ll turn to a newspaper, as generations of Americans before them have, he predicts.

I grew up in a household that got the Chicago Tribune, and the quality and size slowly declined, probably in relation to declining subscriptions. While there is certainly value to newspapers, most have not figured out a way to move to the web and mobile in an enjoyable way. Mix in the declining stock and how the company recently spun off its broadcast properties, and this doesn’t give me hope for Tribune figuring it out.

On the flip side, I’ve been trying out The Washington Post’s electronic edition (thanks, Amazon Prime) and have been fairly pleased so far. It’s not perfect, but does give me hope that some publications can at least attempt to make the jump to digital.

Link: The Ultimate iPhone Camera Comparison ☍

Tap Tap Tap’s Lisa Bettany (Makers of Camera+):

In the past eight years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The new 12-megapixel iPhone 6s iSight camera is no exception. With 50% more megapixels than the last four iPhone 8-megapixel models, the iPhone 6s boasts a number of key improvements including: improved auto-focus, local tone-mapping, noise reduction, and colour separation, with that fancy “deep trench isolation” technology Apple is raving about.

When you go from one generation of iPhone to the next, the camera update is often seen as worthwhile improvement, but comparing the original iPhone with the 6s really shows how far we’ve come in only eight years.

September 25, 2015

Link: Giving Myself a Voice ☍

Samantha Bielefeld:

My reasoning for moving forward with the idea really came down to two factors. For one, I look at the publications that cover the technology industry. While it may not be exclusively a male climate, it is without a doubt dominated by journalists who are men. Some of the most well known and most respected websites are either headlined by male writers, or written by a single male personality. This is not to say they didn’t earn their followings, or that their writing isn’t excellent. They did, and it is. My issue is with the fact that I also read many knowledgeable, insightful pieces every day that are authored by women. They are women whose voices often aren’t carried as far as their male counterparts. I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to try and investigate the matter, although I am interested in the reason why. I’m sure there are many and varied reasons, and different circumstances, that cause this to happen.

I discovered Bielefeld’s site through an article on Twitter (it ended up in my Reading List, otherwise I’d give credit), and immediately had to check out her other posts. Not only is the writing already very smart and entertaining, but she has had the site up for only a week. I look forward to reading and linking to her posts in the future.