Apple Music

The first thing I had to realize trying out Apple’s new Music service is that you have to rearrange how you think about iTunes. I’m one of those folk who threw up their hands in frustration when iTunes 11 came out with a quasi-iOS look and got rid of multiple windows. I quickly put iTunes back into as much of a classic appearance as I could with this list view. My first few hours with Music was an exercise in frustration because of this.

To really enjoy and make use of Music put your preconceptions behind you. Otherwise you, like me, will be constantly raving about the horrible buggy frustrating UI of iTunes. 

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Controversial Swift Exceptions

There were some big changes to Swift this week. The most surprisingly controversial one was the adding of “exceptions.” I put those in quotes because they are quite unlike traditional exceptions in C++, C#, Java or Python even though I’ve called them Pythonesque at times.1 Whoa. People on both sides of the debate flip out on that!

There have been two types of reactions.

First (the majority) is excitement. Finally we have something to avoid all those nested and hard to read if statements.

Second (a loud minority) are those groups that hate exceptions or think Swift did them wrong. From what I can tell one group are primarily those coming from ObjcC where exceptions were always warned against. (ObjC has long had C++ styled exceptions but few use them) There’s also the Haskell/Clojure folks who also hate exceptions. Both these groups shout the, “Swift isn’t learning from the mistakes of the past and is dominated by C++ folks.” The related group (sometimes also disliking exceptions in general but sometimes a fan of C++ or related exceptions) are those who note that Swift’s exceptions aren’t even really exceptions. 

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  1. I think I called them Pythonesque because it’s fairly common in Python to use exceptions for error handling and not just unexpected catastrophic failures. To be fair not everyone agrees with that type of programming. Also unlike C++ Python’s exceptions are kind of intrinsically tied to an error state and the error state isn’t necessary catastrophic. The calling function is just supposed to respond to the error, fix things up a bit so you can continue and clear the error indicator. (See Python exceptions)

WWDC: How were my predictions?

I knew coming in that the apparent last minute pullout of the new AppleTV would mean a very low key keynote this year. Already we were set to expect a focus on debugging and minor refinement to OS X and iOS. However even so I was pretty surprised. Some parts (especially the watch and the music sections) were really not very streamlined. It was not your typical keynote. It’s too bad since I was very excited about the AppleTV. But I’d rather them do it right than just push it out.

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No AppleTV at WWDC

Well most of my predictions have already been falsified for WWDC. Apple appears to have leaked news that there won’t be a new Apple TV. It’s an odd leak, if that’s what it is. It appears like Apple had planned for new hardware and a new UI but it just wasn’t ready. How much of this was due to content deals (presumably primarily CBS and NBC) and how much was an unfinished OS isn’t clear.

The problem is that Apple now has so many “channels” on the Apple TV that it’s very unwieldily. To be honest very few I use. I have ESPN & Netflix on the second row and I very rarely go to the third row or beyond. Further if you don’t already have cable most of them don’t work anyway. There are ways to hide the unwanted icons but most casual users would never guess how to do it. The whole UI needs a rethink.

If Apple really did have Apple TV plans, I hope they don’t delay them too long.

WWDC Predictions: Hardware

This is the third in my prediction posts. Note I don’t take these too seriously. I’m usually doing well if I bat .500. I’m excluding Apple TV predictions which had their own post as I’m convinced Apple’s updating the hardware.

The real question is whether Apple is going to take its Watch initiative (which I’m lukewarm on) to the iPod. I think it’s a small chance, but I’d be more interested in an Apple Watch inspired iPod Shuffle reboot than the watch itself. Consider a plastic, slightly heavier, shuffle for $150. It has a screen akin to the small watch (but cheaper LCD) and no sensors. What it does have is bluetooth. I’d almost certainly get it. Will Apple do it? And if they do it would they announced it at WWDC or at the iPhone event in the fall? Probably the latter if it happens at all. But I’ll give it a 10% chance.

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WWDC Predictions: iOS

This is the second of my WWDC predictions focusing in on iOS. Obviously given the amount of shared code a lot of this will apply to OS X as well. My Apple TV WWDC predictions can be found here. My old iOS9 wishlist can be found here. I think this WWDC will be at least as significant as the introduction of iOS7 and its new UI. So I’m splitting these predictions up into product line.

I think iOS9 will have changes both fixing UI issues and long standing bugs but also with a much bigger focus on productivity apps. Apple knows the iPad is in trouble. It’s growth curve hasn’t just slowed but is decreasing year over year. Expect Apple to give one more big push on the iPad. If sales don’t pick up next year prepare for it to be “neglected.” This really is a turning point for Apple’s whole strategy going forward. Most suspect OS X and iOS will merge. But the very notion of a merger depends upon what happens with iOS in terms of productivity. Will we get a more productive iOS or will Apple simply make running iOS apps on the Mac easier? Expect moves in both directions but primarily on supercharging iOS.

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WWDC Predictions: Apple TV

AppleTVThe blog’s been pretty quiet of late as I’ve been extremely busy on other projects (including butting heads with trying to put an ObjC front end to a C++ project in Xcode). In past years though I made my WWDC predictions a few weeks out from the keynote. That’s far enough away so as to not be swayed by the flurry of rumors (often leaked) in the final few weeks before WWDC. Yet close enough so as to not be shooting entirely in the dark. Not wanting to break a tradition, here are my predictions. Since I think this will be a big year – even bigger than last year with the long awaited release of extensions – I’ll break it up into a few posts.

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Remote App: A Modest Proposal

I’ve not written much of late primarily due to just being so busy. However Gruber put up a tweet that made me think about the Remote app for the Apple TV. Apparently the Apple Watch has a remote app that’s actually useful for controlling the Apple TV. Color me surprised.

Now in some ways I love the Remote app. It makes typing quite easy however it’s just so clumsy because it takes so long to connect to the AppleTV. That lag means you’re apt not to reach for your phone. Throw in that it doesn’t have modes for the various oft used apps on the Apple TV and you end up with just a dumb remote. Typically I only draw out my phone when I’m going to be using YouTube and doing a bunch of searching.

Gruber mentions that the Apple Watch Remote stays active when it was the front most app. So every time you raise your wrist it’s ready to go. Why can’t they do that with the phone?

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Changes in Apple Blogging

One thing I notice as I read my rss feed and twitter. Posts about computers have changed a lot in recent years. The types of posts I used to love — hacks or tweaks that make things work better — are much rarer now. I thought about why and it’s largely because things either work or they don’t. When they don’t often there’s not much you can do about it anymore.

Todays Apple News

I’ll skip the discussion of the watch because as I said yesterday, I’m just not that interested in it. If you are go for it. Just be aware that traditionally 1.0 hardware releases from Apple age quickly. The original iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air became obsolete rather quickly and were initially quite limited. For a $1000 watch or $10,000 watch that’s a big deal. Most people I know buying expensive watches like the mechanics of the watch. Despite being in the same price range this is something quite different. It was also telling that Apple didn’t announce any way to upgrade the watch. So if you put down $1000 you may have a watch that’s semi-obsolete in two years. While they’re targeting the rich with these high end watches, I suspect most people paying that amount of money expect the device to work as well in 10 years. That’s quite unlikely with the Apple watch.

What’s more interesting to me is that the rumors of the thunderboltless retinal Air were true. I discussed the issue of USB-C then. The biggest problem is that while USB-C can do video it’s fairly limited. Go up in resolution terribly far and you lose most of the USB features of the connector. 

The big debate back in January was whether this would indicate Apple’s dropping Thunderbolt. While I wasn’t expecting the new Air to be released today – primarily due to some rumor sites saying it wasn’t ready – it unfolded about as I expected. By keeping the existing Air and MBP lines as is I think we’re seeing a strong indication from Apple that Thunderbolt is here to stay. It just appears that Apple is positioning the new Air as an ultraportable laptop with associated tradeoffs.

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Trying to figure it all out a post at a time