Category Archives: Commentary

An iPod Touch I’d Buy

Lumina CM1The new Panasonic Lumina CM1 is a very intriguing product. I don’t think it’s the first hybrid Android phone. It does seems one of the most mature. It’s a camera first and a phone second. Honestly I wouldn’t want this as a phone. I’d much rather tether it to a phone. I don’t need yet an other data plan eating away at my wallet.

I can honestly imagine Apple making a new iPod Touch like this with a big lens. I think I’d buy something like that much quicker than I’d buy an Apple watch with nebulous utility. Whether Apple would ever do that is an other question. They’ve given no indication but I think many people would love it if they pushed into the camera space with real lenses.

On the U2 Kefuffle

There’s been a lot of rather silly discussion of Apple’s U2 promotion with people getting unwanted U2 in iTunes. I could understand the uproar were it something patently offensive to many people such as highly misogynist, sexual, racist or violent lyrics. It’s harder to understand when it’s simply some unwanted U2.

All that said the real issue isn’t just the U2 album but how it’s basically impossible to delete “purchased” items from the cloud. I can’t help but imagine that if the album was easy to delete the uproar wouldn’t have occurred. At a minimum the backlash would have been attenuated. I bet Apple won’t see this as a general problem but just a problem with this album. It’s not.

I’ve “bought” quite a few free books for my kids from iBooks. Most were horrible and I’d love to delete most them so they don’t show up. But there’s no way to do it. So far as I know this is true for purchased videos and music as well. 

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Initial Apple Presentation Thoughts

Not a lot to say. Other than the very well thought out UI for the watch, everything was about like rumors said way back in the early spring. Sadly this was the first announcement of this sort since the initial iPhone announcement where I felt extremely underwhelmed. There’d been times when, like a Christmas morning expecting one particular toy, I was disappointed.1 But I’d never felt underwhelmed before. I want to be careful. I didn’t think the iPad would be the hit it was. So take it with a grain of salt.

I just can’t quite figure out how many people would want the watch. I didn’t see that Apple made a compelling need case for it. Say what you will about Jobs. But he always had a killer function — even for the iPad. Exercise seems to be the attempt for the watch, but even that isn’t that compelling given the limits of the watch itself.

As for the phones. Only a 20% speed increase. No RAM increase. And no new compelling features at all beyond size. For many of us larger, despite the Anrdroid market, is a big step backwards. I hope that in the future they move to keeping the 4” form factor as the low end but put the latest chip inside. Because the 4.7” (the smallest) is just too big for my use. I remember the days when having a small phone was a plus.

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  1. Yes I’m talking AppleTV app store and interapp communication. Although we got most of that with iOS8 finally.

Competition Works

This year our city got Google Fiber. Admittedly most of the fiber had been laid by the city. Various ISPs and cable companies had been created that didn’t really successfully make use of the infrastructure.1 I’m not sure if Google approached Provo or the mayor approached Google (probably the latter) but Google came in and took over the city cable and fiber for ISP. Now Provo always had a lot of competition in the ISP space. Since we’re beside rather large mountains microwave based ISPs make a lot of sense here, for instance. Comcast was also always here and, to a lesser extent, the old phone company worked as an ISP. We have Verizon FIOS and a few others as well. So compared to most of the US we’ve always been served well.

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  1. Successful in the sense of being successful in terms of profit. Not that their offerings were worse than Comcast.

Developers, the iOS Line and Reactive Design

The great Brent Simmons linked to me about my brief comments regarding universal apps and the new form factors of iOS devices. I always respect Brent’s views and enjoy reading them. I think he’s wrong here though. He thinks that while Apple may push Universal apps it won’t require them. I’d be shocked if, a year and a half from now, the separate iPad/iPhone categories don’t disappear. I suspect they’ll maintain some semblance of them for legacy apps but will start requiring all new apps be universal. Again it won’t happen quickly. Give it a year and a half. It’s coming.

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Making It In the App Store

In my opinion, you make money on the App Store by selling small things — its very nature is a bitesize marketplace. This is how you maximise your effective hourly wage. This doesn’t mean you have to turn around crap. You can still output quality pieces of software.

Benjamin Mayo

This seems right. You have to be well organized and disciplined to do this. Willing to drop a project quickly if it starts taking too much time.

I had two projects I was working on but ended up ending development on both because I just wasn’t sure it was worth the investment in time and money. One of my projects had just ended up being far more involved than I expected. It’d have taken an other year at least. With very little guarantee of making much money, let alone enough to justify that time. It’s the sort of thing I may still work on in spare evenings but never full time unless things change. If I start working on something else my primary strategy will be a whole lot of small simple apps that are easy to support.

It’s honestly getting worse, not better out there. Apple appears to really want people to make reactive design so that one app will adjust for multiple screen sizes. Thus the loss of the extra income for a separate iPad app. I’m sure they’ll allow dual pricing for a while but I’d be shocked if that pricing will last for long. I bet by fall 2015 Apple will begin demanding a single app for all of iOS.

An other solution is to focus on some sort of service that entails a subscription. One of my most used apps is Appigo ToDo which has a cloud service for syncing. The cloud service costs $20/year and I don’t mind paying it at all. However it can be difficult to think of a service that fits that model. 

Against the Larger Phone

I’ve more or less reconciled myself to the 4” iPhone form factor going away. There’s not been a single rumor about an iPhone 6 version in the existing form factor. I wasn’t going to upgrade this year anyway since my 5s is more than adequate. I can’t help but imagine that disliking the bigger size is part of that as well. I completely get why many want the larger form factor. The line between tablet and phone is blurring. At times I think my ideal device would be a regular sized iPad with full phone capabilities and a bluetooth headset. Yet there are lots of times I just want the smaller size. I can’t imagine putting the 4.7” in my pocket when I’m bending a lot and working in a factory. Honestly every time I pick up my old iPhone 4s that I’m running iOS8 on I find myself wishing Apple would go back to that form factor as an option. I remain convinced that, except for the cracking back problem, that the iPhone 4 was the pinnacle of Apple design.

One problem I’ve noticed with even the slightly longer length of the 5/5s is how poorly many (including Apple) have made their designs for one handed use. I know some just think one handed use is bad because they imagine people using it while driving a car. However I frequently am doing things at work where one handed use would be great. (Holding a product, hand covered in grease, etc.) The work around once the 5 was introduced was the dreaded “hand shimmy” or the “stretch that thumb as far as you can.” I’ve had cramps from doing this and it’s very hard to hit buttons by position in this way. (That way you don’t even need look at the phone) Often with the 4/4s I could use the music app without even looking at the phone. No more.

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