May 9, 2019

Snippet: What to Expect From Marzipan ☍

The Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry examines the interface and usability differences with bringing iOS apps over to the Mac and what this means for Apple developers as a whole:

It’s my opinion that Universal apps were the worst thing to ever happen for the iPad ecosystem. There’s no way for a developer to recoup the costs for new interactions and the extra work needed for more sophisticated apps. Apple makes it easier for a customer up front by offering a single download, but at the same time they make things worse because a Universal version of the user’s favorite app isn’t financially viable. Apple no longer has customers who pay directly for their software, so this aspect of third-party products may be a blind spot for the company.

My biggest fear for Marzipan is that Mac apps become a part of a universal download. Nothing could kill my enthusiasm for the project more quickly.

While the tone of the piece is mostly neutral-to-positive on the possibilities, the concern is worthwhile, especially as we’ve seen it before. Personally, I’m more than happy to pay for quality apps that I use regularly (regardless of platform), but I also recognize that many people don’t. As frustrating as it was when a developer didn’t make a Universal app and let the iPad version languish, having separate versions for sale for iPhone, iPad, and/or Mac could still work, provided they were updated in a similar timeframe (Reeder would be a good example of this, although obviously not utilizing Marzipan).

May 4, 2019

Snippet: A Conspiracy to Kill IE6 ☍

Chris Zacharias with an incredible story:

The bittersweet consequence of YouTube’s incredible growth is that so many stories will be lost underneath all of the layers of new paint. This is why I wanted to tell the story of how, ten years ago, a small team of web developers conspired to kill IE6 from inside YouTube and got away with it.

I was all in on Safari on the Mac from day one, typically using Camino, Firefox, and later Chrome as backups. However, I had to often test this site on various versions of Internet Explorer and IE6 was always difficult long after the world moved on to IE8. The market has moved on and this group of YouTube employees probably helped put the final nail in the coffin. I especially loved the interaction with the Google Docs team.

May 3, 2019

Snippet: How Amazon Created the Prime Membership Program ☍

Jason Del Rey for Vox/Recode:

But the idea came with huge risks, and it spurred real tension inside Amazon. Some managers resented that their projects appeared to be deprioritized for a secret program they knew little about. Others feared that Amazon’s top customers were going to abuse the program and ultimately bankrupt the company with soaring shipping costs.

And if it succeeded, Amazon Prime was going to mean big, uncomfortable changes on everything from how managers were evaluated by superiors to how the company fulfilled orders and moved goods from point A to point B.

The whole Prime development process is something that I hadn’t really thought about (I didn’t pay much attention to Amazon in the mid-2000s)—I considered it more that there was probably a point when Prime didn’t exist and then a point when it did. Nonetheless, in the context of that time and seeing how Amazon is today, it’s an impressive risk that paid off.

April 25, 2019

Snippet: Podcast Startup Luminary’s Launch Week Keeps Getting Worse ☍

Ashley Carman for The Verge:

Major creators are continuing to remove their shows from Luminary, the $100 million subscription podcast startup, over its business model, and even more are leaving after the company was exposed for using a proxy server that hides listener data from creators. […]

Now, smaller creators, including Ben Thompson, Owen Williams, and Federico Viticci, are pulling their podcasts, too. Their withdrawal comes after podcasters noticed that Luminary was serving shows to listeners through a complicated linking system, depriving them of important listener data. The platform also stripped their shows notes, which can be used to share sponsored links or other relevant information.

When a podcast player serves a show, listeners’ requests are usually sent directly to the server that hosts it. Luminary said today that it’s added an extra step to that process. Instead of directing listeners to the original podcast server, it’s routing the requests through its own servers first.

While there are certainly good-intentioned reasons for doing what Luminary is doing, it generally goes against the conventions and business model of the entire podcast industry. Besides feeling slimy, there’s plenty of legal ramifications that a newly-created company probably shouldn’t want to deal with.

April 24, 2019

Snippet: Nick Heer on the Apple Watch at Four ☍

Nick Heer:

The Apple Watch is, for me, a highly polarizing product within my own head. That is: the things I like about it I really like about it; the things that I do not are deeply frustrating. I think its small size and more limited nature concentrate and amplify its high points as much as its flaws.

I had an original Apple Watch, upgraded to a Series 4 last year and it was an impressive improvement. However, there are days where I wonder if it is a bit too much and I’m kind of “locked in” because I already own the Watch, a variety of bands, and enjoy some of the fitness/health feature.

While I’m not going to go without right now, it does bring up the interesting question of if I’m going to participate in another round of upgrades, however many years down the road that would be.