January 30, 2015

Link: AOL Closing TUAW ☍

Micah Singleton for The Verge:

There goes another one. AOL is shutting down The Unofficial Apple Weblog, better known as TUAW, sources familiar with the situation tell The Verge. The company — which is also shutting down its gaming site Joystiq — is in the midst of a major reorganization, and is cutting back on media properties it deems as underperforming. TUAW’s run comes to an end on February 2nd.

It’s a shame AOL couldn’t make it work with a blog about an exciting tech company making more money than they know what to do with. Jokes aside, I’m sorry to see more folks lose their jobs and a site that I thoroughly enjoyed—especially in its early days—disappear.

January 29, 2015

Link: Microsoft Releases New Outlook App for iOS and Android ☍

Initially, I dismissed this release as another Microsoft tool that I wouldn’t necessarily need or use. Curiosity got the best of me and I installed it and added my work Exchange account to try and have found it to be pretty good. The app is mostly a rebranding of Acompli, which Microsoft recently purchased and brought in-house. Around the various sites reporting on this, a number of commenters have complained that Microsoft took the easy way out, but I don’t see it any different than Dropbox buying Mailbox, Apple buying Siri, or any other tech acquisition involving a startup. Kudos to Microsoft for realizing that someone was doing a better job than they were and bringing them into the fold to further develop a product category.

That being said, I still like Apple’s Mail app on iOS and may flip the switch to use my work email on there again, but for the time being, it’s nice to see what others bring to the table.

January 27, 2015

Link: Apple Releases OS X 10.10.2 ☍

As expected, OS X Yosemite received an update today with the following changes:

  • Resolves an issue that may cause Wi-Fi to disconnect.
  • Resolves an issue that may cause web pages to load slowly.
  • Fixes an issue that caused Spotlight to load remote email content when the preference was disabled in Mail.
  • Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones.
  • Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine.
  • Improves VoiceOver speech performance.
  • Resolves an issue that causes VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
  • Addresses an issue that may cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly.
  • Improves stability and security in Safari.

Link: Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 ☍

Available via the Software Update feature on iOS, this update seems to vary in size (weighing in at 247MB on my iPhone 6, 136MB on an iPad 2), and includes the following:

  • Reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update.
  • Fixes an issue that prevent some users from entering their Apple ID password for Messages and FaceTime.
  • Addresses an issue that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results.
  • Fixes an issue which prevented multitasking gestures from working on iPad.
  • Adds new configuration options for education standardized testing.
January 22, 2015

Link: BlackBerry CEO John Chen is Whiny, Doesn’t Get Net Neutrality ☍

John Chen:

Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality. Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.

While it is a chicken-egg situation for BlackBerry’s newest offerings, along with Windows Phone, this is how business works. If you’re developing an app, you’re going to target the most popular devices. Others may eventually happen, but that requires additional time, effort, and support. Let’s not forget that BBM was BlackBerry-only for quite a long time, only opening up support for other platforms in a quick attempt to entice potential customers. Historically, this would be like 1996 Apple complaining that there’s way more software and hardware available for Windows PCs. That’s how competition works—Apple and Google had to gain momentum to get the popular apps and services for their mobile devices—it’s not their fault that BlackBerry lost support from developers and customers.

January 15, 2015

Link: The Forgotten iPod touch ☍

Stephen Hackett:

The iPod touch is a big hit for parents looking for lost-cost devices for their kids, but with the original, A5-powered iPad mini now for sale at just $249, the iPod touch is a harder sell. The iPad mini — with its bigger screen and better battery — is a lot better for games and videos, the two things kids do with these kinds of devices. Toss in that it’s much harder to lose a 7.9-inch device than a 4-inch one, and it’s not hard to see why the iPod touch may be losing out to the iPad mini.

I’d love to see Apple do away with their A5 products once and for all—in some ways, I think this is holding iOS back. Besides that, the iPod touch is a great product to have, but with hand-me-down iPhones and the iPad mini, it really doesn’t have a place. However, I would like to see Apple either make the decision to discontinue it or upgrade it to at least be on par with the iPhone 5s.

January 14, 2015

Link: Siri Improvements ☍

John Gruber:

I’ve noticed over the past year that Siri is getting faster — both at parsing spoken input and returning results. I use iOS’s voice-to-text dictation feature on a near-daily basis, and it’s especially noticeable there. I’ve been using a Moto X running Android 5.0 the past few weeks, so today I did a side-by-side comparison between Siri and Android’s Google Now, asking both the simple question, “What temperature is it outside?” Both phones were on the same Wi-Fi network. Siri was consistently as fast or faster…

I’ll agree with his assessment—I mostly use Siri for simple things that are easier to ask than dig through settings or apps (weather, timer, sports scores or standings, creating reminders, etc.) It sort of went from a gimmicky, sometimes-functional feature on my iPhone 5 in 2012 to something that will always work on my iPhone 6 today. I know it’s not hardware, as my iPhone 5 seemed to get better over time. Maybe it’s a mix of newer OSes, improved connectivity, and faster processing on the back end of things, but regardless it’s better. It may be easy to compare it to Google Now, but as Gruber said, the two services are vastly different. Still, it’s nice to see Apple making progress.

January 13, 2015

“The effortlessness of taking good pictures with the iPhone is probably that phone’s most underrated quality. And yet, its importance grows with every passing day.”