Friday, June 30, 2017

3D Touch gesture for App Switcher deliberately removed from iOS 11 →

Confirmed by Apple Engineering via a bug filed by @irace on Twitter:

This actually pisses me off. I used this SO much before iOS 11 and had been hoping it was only a bug or temporary. It seems this is sadly not the case. For the unfamiliar, this was a fantastic gesture that proved even faster than using the home button to engage the App Switcher and last app. It was a somewhat hidden gesture. Even though it was demoed in the iOS 10 keynote, most people don’t know it exists because it’s not intuitive and there are no indicators the gesture exists. However, it was awesome for those that did know of it.

How it worked

  • 3D Touch the very left edge of the screen/bezel.
    • If you did this again, the App Switcher would ‘pop’ into view.
    • Alternatively, if you then dragged your finger about halfway to the right, the App Switcher would appear.
    • Alternatively, if you then dragged your finger all the way to the right, you would end up in the last used app.

Part of me wonders if this will either be re-introduced as an iPhone 8-only feature or if it’s making room for another edge gesture. If the rumors are true and the iPhone 8 has an edge-to-edge screen with no home button, my bet is a 3D Touch edge gesture on the bottom bezel will replace this functionality. We’re already halfway there with a non-moving home button and an improved Haptic Engine in the iPhone 7.

Either way, I will seriously miss this gesture. Having to retrain my muscle memory to use the home button every time has been a bit annoying.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

iPad Drama: Cynicism and Technology

Joshua Topolsky, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Outline, took to Twitter yesterday to mercilessly bash the iPad. Here’s where he begins his Tweetstorm, some of which I’ll be addressing.

Before I begin to address his comments, I’ll just say this…

Tech people have strong opinions about the iPad. Some see it as a pedestrian device that will never be capable of replacing their MacBook, and that’s fine. People are entitled to their opinions. Others, such as myself, embrace change and the possitibilities of new technology and the experimentation it offers. We find ways of making new things work that don’t detriment the process.

Second, the notion that the iPad needs to replace the MacBook is a massive misunderstanding. If you’re a MacBook-heavy user, and the iPad doesn’t meet your needs, then just don’t use it. Now, for the drama…

Read on

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review Roundup: Amazon Echo Show

Reviews for the Amazons Echo Show are coming in ahead of its launch later this week, and most reactions are positive. The Echo Show offers a new experience for smart speakers with its touch screen and video calling capabilities.

My ‘Show’ will be arriving later this week, and I’m looking forward to writing up another in-depth review once I put it through its paces. I think a touch screen smart speaker definitely has its positives, but it will be interesting to see just how often the screen gets used.

Review Roundup

Dieter Bonn for The Verge—Amazon Echo Show Review: Doing More By Doing Less

You basically never need to tap the screen for anything, unless you really want to. There is not an “app store” where you hunt around for new things to add to your screen. It sits on your counter, answers your questions, sets your timers, and occasionally displays useful information. That’s it, and that’s great.

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg—Amazon’s Echo Show: Do You Need Another Screen?

Voice-activated speakers are not essential purchases. I don’t see the benefit to looking up a weather forecast on a speaker attached to a screen, when you can easily do that with your smartphone’s voice assistant. And for those of you who have a portable tablet or a big-screen TV in your home, would you really want to watch a video on the Echo Show’s 7-inch screen?

Mat Honan for BuzzFeed—Amazon’s New Echo Show Is Very Cool And A Little Creepy

It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.

Some people will definitely be seen naked with Drop In. Good thing you can set permissions. It’s pretty radical, for sure, to allow for immediate access without prompting.

Happy tenth birthday, iPhone!

Great video with David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, Steven Levy, and Ed Baig, the four journalists who received review units of the original iPhone before it launched.

I remember switching to my brother’s AT&T Family Plan just to get the original iPhone, since my parents were on Verizon and still had dumb phones. I upgraded from a Motorola RAZR1, which was the coolest flip phone at the time. Since then, I’ve been iPhone all the way and have never looked back.

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years; a relatively small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. That just makes me even more excited for the next ten years, which we’re just now beginning to fathom with the workings of AR, VR, Wearables, and beyond.

06/25/2017 at 10:35PM

The Wall Street Journal posted the above video interview with Greg Christie, Tony Fadell, and Scott Forstall focusing on creating the UI for the original iPhone. Quite a bit of it is a rehash of the information told last week by Forstall and others, but he touches on the software keyboard and how they knew it would be looked down on some compared to a hardware keyboard. Definitely still worth a watch. Fadell talks about testing the iPod Click Wheel to navigate a phone UI—highly impractical. Even Steve made a joke about it during the keynote with a fake reveal.

  1. I have great memories of the RAZR. It was the original ‘cool phone’ back in High School. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Modern device repairability or: How I learned to stop worrying and love fixed components

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop was eviscerated (literally and figuratively) during the iFixit tear down. Of note, the Alcantara fabric that outlines the keyboard has no conceivable way to be removed without damaging the product and there are no screws that allow access to the innards. Their verdict was as follows:

The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

Harsh words, but it’s still a laptop, given its form factor. John Gruber pointed out the similarity to Apple products–namely the AirPods, saying:

Apple’s AirPods got a 0/10 from iFixit. That just goes to show how little correlation there is between iFixit’s concept of repairability and whether a product is good or not. I consider AirPods to be Apple’s best new product in years.

I think the argument here is that a product can perform well and have a great experience no matter how repairable it is. It could also be a piece of crap. In other words, repairability does not a good product make. I often view iFixit’s concerns about this topic to be a bit heavy-handed, but then I remember they are in the business of selling tools for that very purpose.

This does beg the question… in this day and age, with miniaturization and precision engineering, what is a reasonable expectation for repairability?

Read on

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Scott Forstall interview to be live streamed tonight →

UPDATE Direct Link to stream provided above.

Computer History Museum’s account just tweeted the following regarding tonight’s interview with Scott Forstall and some of the original iPhone Engineers.

It would have been nice for them to use something other than Facebook, but here’s their page.