Confirmed: Apple Slows Down Older Devices

Ever notice – like I have – that your iPhone gets slower when you update to the latest version of iOS? A comment thread on Reddit started a few weeks ago on this topic and it hit the tech news sites this week.

Apple has since responded (via iMore):

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices”, Apple told iMore. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

This is a shitty way for Apple to get busted doing something they claim is by design.

I agree with what Marco Arment said on Twitter yesterday:

For years, we’ve reassured people that no, Apple doesn’t secretly slow down their older iPhones to make them buy new ones.

If this must be done, it should be a setting. If it’s on by default, the user should be alerted the first time it happens.

I have a 6-year-old Retina iPad 3 running iOS 9 and it’s for this very reason I haven’t updated it. And it’s also for this reason that it’s performance is still fairly snappy.

I’ve never needed confirmation from Apple that my devices were slowing down when I updated them.

A Coke is a Coke

Low-cost Android One phones reportedly coming to the US:

Google’s Android One platform was originally designed to provide low-cost Android devices to developing markets without the stuff that usually comes with low-cost Android devices: bloatware, competing services, and a crippling lack of software and security updates. Now, according to a report from The Information, the program is about to make it’s way to the US market to help solve those problems.

And on regular software updates:

Google also has a stake in ensuring that as many Android devices as possible are upgraded on a regular basis, not just for features but also for security updates.

Imagine that: It’s 2017 and there exist a whole market of shitty, low end Android devices that can’t be updated on a regular basis, filled with bloatware.

This has never been a problem with any of the iPhones I’ve owned.

It reminds me of this great quote from Andy Warhol:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

When you buy an iPhone 7 it’s the same iPhone 7 your favorite actress owns and it’s the same one the cashier at the grocery store owns. When you buy an Android phone, it could lie anywhere on the spectrum of Amazing to Crappy.

This distinction between iPhones and Android phones can’t be overemphasized.

‘Less & Better’ Not ‘More & Shitty’

Apple is going to remove abandoned apps from the App Store:

It’s cleaning time in the App Store. Apple sent an email to its developer community indicating that there will be some upcoming changes in the App Store. If an app no longer works or is outdated, it’s going to get removed from the App Store. And it’s about time.

“We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated,” Apple wrote.

And:

And Apple is not going to stop at abandoned apps. The company will also fight spammy app names. For instance, if you search for “Instagram” on the App Store, one of the first results is an app that is called “[app name] Photo Collage, Picture Editor, Pic Grid, F…” and then it gets cut off.

It’s about time. I’d rather have less & better than more & shitty.

Interface Details

In 2015, Moleskine released a calendar app for iOS (yes, the company that makes notebooks and journals).

The app is called Timepage. I’ve been using it since it came out and it’s really good. As with all great design, it’s beautiful, but design is about how it works, not how it looks, and it works great. It much easier to use than Apple’s native Calendar app for iOS.

I’m not going to give a full breakdown of the app, I just want to highlight one detail I love. When you have no appointments on a day, instead of showing you nothing, it displays a historic event:

If you’re the kind of person searching for great calendar apps try it out, it’s $2.99 and if that’s too expensive for you, how about you skip your over-sugared and over-priced Starbucks latte.

Adroid or iOS, You Pick

The decline and fall of Windows Phone is more tragic, because for several years the OS was making headway. It had an app problem, sure, but Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 brought the OS itself up to the level of iOS and Android, and the low-end Lumias provided an excellent value for the money. But soon after buying the Lumia division from Nokia, Microsoft seemed to stop pushing. Windows Phone 8.1 has been left to rot while Microsoft takes its sweet time finishing a continually delayed Windows 10 update. To be an existing Windows Phone 8.1 user is to sit by and watch while Microsoft ports every selling point of Windows Phone as a platform to iOS and Android. Embracing iOS and Android unquestionably gives Microsoft’s apps and services a wider audience, but there’s no reason why it had to be done at the expense of the company’s existing user base.

The remains of these platforms aren’t really viable as general-purpose smartphone ecosystems. Diehards can (and will) disagree, and Microsoft at least has given Windows Phone acolytes a gift in the form of the Lumia 950 and 950XL. But if you’re recommending a smartphone to someone in 2016, Android and iOS can do pretty much anything that anyone needs to be able to do. Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 cannot, and they’re best left to people who care more about brand loyalty than functionality.

The fight for a third-best smartphone OS has been lost. By everyone.

Apple Responds to the FBI

The FBI is asking for Apple’s help unlocking the iPhone 5C of San Bernardino terrorism suspect Syed Rizwan Farook.

Tim Cook responded:

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

No way, Jose. This would set a horrible legal precedent.

I’m happy to see Apple standing up for the privacy of their customers.

The future of Sketch

Geoff Teehan interviews Sketch founder Pieter Omvlee and asks him if he’s ever been tempted to take on outside investment:

No. I’ve never been tempted. We are self-sufficient and profitable. If I were to take on an investment it would mean handing over a sizable portion of the company to an outside investor who would understandably expect a large return on their investment, maybe via avenues I might not agree an in the broader best interest of Sketch. I want to keep growing the company in a way that I see fit, and I don’t want to have the added pressure from someone who might expect more from it than I may even myself. Plus, with that money, I’d probably be expected to grow at a rate that I might not agree is best in the longer term. Similarly, I don’t want to be forced to hire so many people that we’re not profitable, and then only to be forced to take on more funding. We would probably quickly be expected to go from 6 developers to 20 or 30 — and that’s something that I don’t think is wise at this point in time. So in short I don’t currently see the benefits of taking outside funding.

This is great if Sketch can maintain independence, but there’s also a lot to be gained by taking on outside investors. Money doesn’t solve all problems, but with the right leadership and processes in place, you have the potential to make a lot more progress, and make it more quickly.

As Goeff reminds us in his interview, Sketch is eating into Adobe’s lunch and now Adobe has released a Sketch competitor called Comet. Time will tell if Comet gets traction in the marketplace, but Adobe can put hundreds of developers on Comet to make Sketch go away.

To build world class design software with a current team of 6 developers (!) seems untenable, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

deliberately radical without regard for traditions

Timm Romine responding to Sean Geraghty’s criticisms that Apple has thrown out discoverability and usability in their products:

Sorry, Sean, and Don, and Bruce, but The Future won’t have buttons whose functions can be achieved without buttons, and it definitely won’t look like iOS 6. And you can argue it won’t look like iOS 7–9. But what’s certain, is the future of UI is minimalistic, sleek, simplistic — according to the sci-fi movies we revere.

Back in 2009 I wrote about the future of iconography. I speculated then—and Siri is now showing us now— that the interface of the future is no interface (I’m not suggesting I’m a genius, the writing was on the wall).

Just like learning any new language, learning the language of an interface takes varying degrees and practice before one is accustomed to it.

I’ve been maintaining this blog since 2006 so I’m used to the endless stream of doom-and-gloom pieces on Apple.

We, and Apple, are going to be ok.

Move to iOS App for Android

Jacob Kastrenakes on the “reviews” of Apple’s ‘Move to iOS’ app for Android in the Google Play Store:

“I call on my fellow Android comrades to ensure this app gets drowned into oblivion with a 1-star rating never to be seen again on our cherished platform,” writes reviewer Segun Omojokun. And that’s basically what’s happening. The app primarily has 5-star and 1-star reviews right now, with the vast majority being the latter. There are currently a little over 800 reviews with a 5 star rating and over 3,300 reviews with a 1-star rating. The app’s overall rating currently sits at a 1.8.

We always hear about Apple fanbois, but shit, there are a lot of Android turds out there.

Android Defectors

That’s where the switching number comes into the picture. This Scenario 2 is shown in the figure above and suggests that although Android gained 8 million new users, it lost 6.4 million to iPhone for a net gain of 1.6.

Apple may have also lost a few users to Android but overall gained switchers from other platforms, mainly Android. This is what would support Tim Cook’s comments.

Thinking further ahead, as the markets mature globally, they may well evolve into the way the US market evolves today. Apple’s brand promise ensures loyalty while competing platforms slowly “leak” users. If this sounds eerily familiar then you’d be right. This is exactly how the PC market behaves today.

The new switchers, Horace Dediu

Apple Music, First Impressions

I’ve been using Apple Music since it launched yesterday. It’s interesting. I’m not sure if I’ll be signing up after the 3-month trial is over, but so far I like the recommendations it gives me.

The playlists under “For You” are good, but I’ve been playing around with the ability to create a “station” based on a track I’m listening too. I want recommendations based on my music library. So far, the stations Apple has been creating are good. I noticed it will play me a combination of songs already in my library and songs from iTunes.

The user interface on my iPhone is on the complex side. I can figure it out without too much trouble, but I’m not sure non-nerds will be able to. Part of this is due to the density of functionality Apple has packed into the Music app. There’s a lot going on.

I used to be able to double-tap on the album artwork to display the album track list, but that doesn’t work anymore. I have to hit the 3 dots in the bottom right of my iPhone and then tap on the track/album/artist at the top of the modal menu. Weird. Confusing.

When I go to My Music and switch to ‘Songs’ I no longer have a ‘Shuffle’ button at the top of the list. I miss that button. I’ll probably get over it.

I also no longer have the ability to reorganize the bottom menu. Right now ‘My Music’ is the last button. Apple is assuming I’m always going to want their streaming service to be my first priority. I’d like ‘My Music’ to be the first menu item. Please.

iTunes is a whole other story. It continues the long tradition of being a labyrinthine, confusing desktop application. As with the iOS Music app, I can figure it out, I just wonder how many regular people can. Since iOS is where all the money and consumer eyes are these days, it’s not the end of the world.

Now back to my music.

Oh Es Ex

Jason Snell thinks it’s time to retire OS X:

They’re going to collide eventually. iOS is on track for version 9 this year, and if Apple continues incrementing OS X versions, we’ll be heading for 10.11. And, again barring any change in philosophy, in the summer of 2016 we’ll be talking about iOS 10 and OS X and things will get weird.

But this is an era where Apple appears to be amenable to change on many fronts. Tacking the lowercase letter i on the front of product names appears to be a thing of the past—hello, Apple Watch. (And while it would be bold for Apple to change the name of iOS to Apple OS, I can’t see it—it’s powering the iPhone and iPad, and those names aren’t changing anytime soon.)

So let me make a proposal. As long as Apple is showing a willingness to change, let’s get off 10 and take this one to eleven.

Makes sense to me.

via 512 Pixels

“Don’t bother learning our platform or writing native apps for it.”

A few weeks ago I linked up to the story about Microsoft giving developers the ability to port Android and iOS apps to Windows.

At Ars Technica, Sean Gallager gets into more of the nerdy details and recalls IBM and Blackberry trying similar, unsuccessful moves:

Neither OS/2 nor BlackBerry 10 has made a success of this capability. There are two major problems with supporting foreign applications on a niche platform. The first is straightforward: it removes any incentive for developers to bother with the native platform. Investing in developing for a minor platform is already something of a gamble, and by telling developers “Oh hey, you can just use your existing Win16 or Android program…” as IBM and BlackBerry (respectively) did, you’re implicitly sending them a message. “Don’t bother learning our platform or writing native apps for it.”

And:

Even with Islandwood, porting iOS applications to Windows will require more work than Android apps require. While some Android apps will be 100 percent compatible with Astoria, that won’t be the case with Islandwood. There are differences between the platforms that need handling—Android and Windows Phone have a back button, for example, whereas iOS doesn’t—and devs will have to change code accordingly.

The impact this has will depend on the app. King’s Candy Crush Saga for Windows Phone is already using Islandwood, and the changes required were described as a “few percent.” CCS supports features including in-app purchases in its Windows Phone version, taking advantage of the StoreKit API mapping. However, as a game, its user interface is largely custom anyway. Apps that lean more heavily on UIKit may well need more work to ensure that their interfaces meet the expectations of Windows users.

It’s Microsoft’s last ditch effort.

This Should Go Fine

At BGR.com, Brad Reed on Microsoft’s plans to let you port iOS and Android apps to Windows:

Microsoft is raising the white flag when it comes to developing its own mobile app ecosystem — instead, it’s going to let developers easily bring their iOS and Android apps over to Windows 10 without having to completely rebuild them from the ground up as they’ve had to do in the past. Essentially, Microsoft is letting developers reuse most of the same code that they used to write their apps for rival platforms and is giving them tools to help them optimize these apps for Windows.

Wow! Sounds tremendous. I’m sure there won’t be any redesigning needed. I mean, it’s not like Apple or Google have their own design guidelines, like this and this.

I’m also sure performance will be lickity-split. No lag or recoding needed.

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