Apple Listens and Responds with watchOS 3

From Ars Technica:

Apple added a number of UI updates to the OS to make it more "familiar" and easier to use. There’s a new dock where you can get information from your favorite apps without fully opening them, and a Control Center can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the Watch’s display. When it comes to texts, you can now see "smart replies" on the display as well, so you can choose a quick reply to send to someone.

via Apple reveals new version of watchOS at WWDC

Say what you want about Apple thinking they always know best—this OS release took a couple of tent pole features and replaced them with something much more useful. I’m actually excited by my Apple Watch again.

How to use VSCO?

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to use VSCO:

To navigate to your Studio, pull the “joystick” to the left.

via VSCO: How to use VSCO

Listen: I have produced more interfaces that needed detailed instructions than I can count. It happens.

But, the warning bells at VSCO should have gone off twice in these two sentences:

  1. VSCO is a powerful-but-simple app. Offering step-by-step instructions to basically adding filters to video should have been a total dead giveaway that something wasn’t right with the interface.
  2. When they developed this feature, I’m sure they discussed the little dingus used to move between screens as a "joystick".
    That should have stayed there.
    Calling it a "joystick" (quotes and all) kind of reinforces that they had no idea what to call this thing.

I’m off to scrub all my documentation so the makers of VSCO can’t find my faults and broadcast them publicly.

OLED “Touch Bar” on the MacBook Pro

Martin Hajek has drawn up some (quite impressive) 3D renders of the rumored MacBook with an OLED Touch panel where the function keys currently reside.

Our myriad of touch devices have proven there’s a high value to an interface that can adjust to meet new contexts. That was a key selling point in the original, all-screen, keyboard-less design of the iPhone.

A static keyboard isn’t without value. It allows the operator to build muscle memory. Familiarity breeds efficiency.

If this rumor is true (that’s a big if), I’ll be curious to see how Apple addresses those keys that many of us use daily—Spaces and Volume. Will they just cease to exist in some apps? Will apps be allowed to control the entire bar, or just a portion?

In the meantime, pretty pictures are nice.

MacBook meets OLED

The “DuckTales” Theme Song

I was at 100% until the last one. Is that real?!

Do You Remember All The Lyrics To The “DuckTales” Theme Song?

President Obama just endorsed Hillary Clinton

"Look, I know how hard this job can be," Obama said. "That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion, and the heart to get the job done."

via President Obama just endorsed Hillary Clinton in this video

Didn’t see this coming. Bernie for VP?

Subscribing to Your Favorite Apps

In a rare pre-WWDC sit-down interview with The Verge, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said that Apple would soon alter its revenue-sharing model for apps. While the well-known 70 / 30 split will remain, developers who are able to maintain a subscription with a customer longer than a year will see Apple’s cut drop down to 15 percent. The option to sell subscriptions will also be available to all developers instead of just a few kinds of apps. "Now we’re going to open up to all categories," Schiller says, "and that includes games, which is a huge category."

via APP STORE 2.0

The diminishing revenue split is a clear win-win. Developers get to keep more of their revenue while Apple has a new carrot to keep developers interested in continued—preferably innovative—development on the iOS platform.

I’m less hopeful about what this will do for the consumer.

I work for a company that makes a good chunk of its revenue by selling software. Yet, any time I recommend a new app to coworker, it’s the same response:

You have to pay for this?

My thought to this is always the same: "If you can’t sell software to people whose livelihood depends on selling software, how do indie developers survive?"

There’s a chance that the move to subscription software will spread the cost of an app over enough time that’ll seem less expensive, driving people hesitant to spend towards becoming a customer.

But…most apps are cheap. Ninety-nine cents, maybe a few bucks. Unless Apple is offering ten-cent subscription tiers, I find it hard to believe someone is going to subscribe to an app for 99¢ a year when that same person balked at the one-time purchase.

Will this actually do anything to entice users to "upgrade" from their free apps?

For those of us that don’t mind buying apps, we face a reality where, rather than buying an app one time for $10, we’ll be on the hook for 99¢ per month.

I for one am not looking forward to an on-going $40 monthly App Store bill.

Regardless, this is a really interesting model. Time will tell how it affects app quality and pricing.

CSS Backdrop Filter

backdrop-filter is pure awesome nonsense. You can bet I’ll be using it everywhere.

‘macOS’ Rebranding

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

It’s widely expected at this point that Apple will rebrand Mac OS X to simply ‘macOS’ next week at WWDC, but hidden in today’s announcements regarding the App Store was yet another hint at the change. In a FAQ from on the iTunes Connect website, Apple mistakenly refers to Mac OS X as ‘macOS,’ again prematurely hinting at the change.

The previous instance that leaked styled it “MacOS”, not “macOS”.

via Another Hint at ‘macOS’ Rebranding of OS X

The writing on this rebrand has been on the wall ever since Phil Schiller spilled the beans on The Talk Show podcast. When it was leaked as capital-m MacOS it oddly irritated me. tvOS and watchOS are all lowercase. Why break that pattern?

Lowercase-m macOS feels right.

Thoughts on WWDC 2016

Looks like the rest of web has already weighed in on their predictions, so let’s jump right in with the Official 2016 Late to the Party WWDC Wishlist!

Unified Queue for tvOS

Last year I wrote Building a Better TV Experience, detailing what I saw as the must haves for a good TV experience. Some of it was indulgent (I’m not sure we need or want notifications while vegging out) and some obvious-in-restrospect (of course Apps were the new channel).

Having used the AppleTV as my only television consumption device for the past ~9 months, I feel justified on one count: apps-as-channels only works if there’s a unified queue to keep it all organized.

Every DVR on the market has recordings, Netflix has My List, YouTube has Watch Later and Hulu has … well, whatever they’re using now (seriously, guys—find a model and stick with it for a few months).

The idea of a queue isn’t original, but with our content spread across multiple apps, it’s never been more important. I won’t speak for the rest of you, but it is the greatest pain in my privileged life to look in 15 different places to see if there’s anything to watch.

How would it work?

Finding and subscribing to content would work as it does today. Searching, browsing, and adding shows to My List would still happen within the confines of the Netflix app. When that new content is added, the Netflix app would push that addition to along with a bit of metadata (cover art, episode title, number in series, etc).

It’d be similar for any other actions. Finished an episode? Hulu could ping to mark it as watched. New season of Man in the High Castle posted? Amazon could automatically push those episodes into your queue.

From that point, would only act as an aggregator and launcher. Selecting any piece of media would open in the sponsoring app. Just like today, that app would control the experience.

Continuity for tvOS

If I had to guess, I’d say Apple considers AirPlay to be the answer to continuity on the AppleTV, but that’s not a proper solution. There’s no good reason to dedicate two devices (the iOS device and the AppleTV) to watching a video when the YouTube app on the AppleTV is just as capable as the one on my iPad.

Complications come to iOS

I’m not generally too high on the Apple Watch (it’s just. so. slow), but I wear it every day for the complications—instant access to quick data.

I won’t pretend to know how it would work or where it would live (although I hate "widgets" on my Android device, so let’s steer clear of that), but a customized lock screen with the greater flexibility of a higher powered device is tantalizing.

Wrapping Up

As I sat down to write this, it was amazing to me just how far these devices have come and how little I need from them.

I’ve never made a public prediction before—and I’m fully prepared to be disappointed—but I look forward to reading about it all after the keynote!


Unexpected Captain America Cameo

Who’s up for an Arrested Development binge-watching party?

Bluth Stair Car

Yes, the stair car from Arrested Development is apparently in the movie, appearing (fittingly) in the background of its big airport fight scene. You can’t see the Bluth Company’s actual logo in the movie, but the paint job on the personal stairway vehicle is pretty clear. It’s just a shame it didn’t get used during the big fight, even if a vehicle that takes a full minute of standing on the gas pedal to get up to top speed (and another block or two of braking to slow back down) isn’t all that practical for a rapid, successful escape.

via The Bluth family’s stair car had a cameo in Captain America: Civil War

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