Microsoft’s flat design non-influence

Over at The Verge, Tom Warren confesses he misses Windows Phone not just for the product it was but how it pushed Apple and Google to design better mobile features in their own products:

Windows Phone has arguably changed Android and iOS, though. Microsoft aggressively pursued modern design principles at the time to launch Windows Phone with its Metro design, and Apple responded with iOS 7 and a flatter user interface. Google went one step further, with its Material Design that included bright colors, playful transitions, and a much flatter and simplified interface.

Most of Warren’s points I agree with, except this one.

I think the move from super-shiny buttons and strong drop shadows in iOS 1 through 6 to the flat aesthetic of iOS 7 has more to do with Jony Ives’ own design sensibility rising to prominence after the death of Steve Jobs and the ouster of Scott Forstall than it does with reacting to anything Microsoft was doing.

Given the number of times Microsoft has rebooted Windows Phone, we might see them blaze a trail back to skeuomorphism in the future.

C’mon Microsoft, we’re all waiting for you to dazzle us once again with your legendary design skills.

People want their devices to know everything about them AND they want their privacy.

Nicole Lee at Engadget explores what Siri can learn from Google Assistant:

Another area that Siri can learn from Google Assistant is simply a better understanding of who you are and have that inform search results. For example, if I tell Google that my favorite team is the San Francisco Giants, it’ll simply return the scores of last night’s game if I say “how are the Giants doing?” or just “how did my favorite team do last night?” Siri, on the other hand, would ask me “Do you mean the New York Giants or the San Francisco Giants?” every single time. That’s just tiresome.

I agree with this article, Siri is definitely lagging behind Google Assistant and Alexa.

At the same time the quote above highlights an interesting situation many people are hypocritical about: they expect their devices to acquire a deep understanding of who they are, what they like, and how they behave, but they’re fiercely vocal about privacy rights.

This might be a more reasonable expectation with Apple, since their business model doesn’t rely on aggregating user data for advertising. Google, on the other hand, makes the majority of their money through advertising.

I’m not saying you should be willing to throw away your privacy rights if you own one of these devices, but just know terms and conditions you’re agreeing to.

“Without him, modern computers and smartphones as we know them would be unthinkable.”

Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an ‘iPod Nobel,’ Is Dead:

Peter Grünberg, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who discovered how to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, making possible devices like the iPad and the smartphone, has died at 78.

His death was announced by the Juelich Research Center in Juelich, Germany, where he was a longtime researcher. The center did not provide any other details.

Dr. Grünberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007 with Albert Fert of the Université Paris-Sud in Orsay. They had independently made the same discovery — of an effect known as giant magnetoresistance, in which tiny changes in a magnetic field can result in huge changes in electrical resistance.

The effect is at the heart of modern gadgets that record music, video or other data as dense magnetic patchworks of ones and zeros — that is to say, electronic tablets and smartphones, the GPS devices in our pockets and handbags.

The Juelich institute said as much in a statement:

“Without exaggeration, one can say Peter Grünberg and his discovery of giant magnetoresistance decisively changed our lives. Without him, modern computers and smartphones as we know them would be unthinkable.”

To be clear, smartphones have always used sold-state hard drives (SSDs) and many laptops use them (Apple MacBooks have only used SSDs since 2015) — not the magnetoresistance technology Grünberg pioneered — but magnetic hard drives are still widely used in many external hard drives and laptops and they represent a huge place in the history of computers.

Never go full robot.

“The guy telling everyone to be afraid of robots uses too many robots in his factory”:

Elon Musk says Tesla relied on too many robots to build the Model 3, which is partly to blame for the delays in manufacturing the crucial mass-market electric car. In an interview with CBS Good Morning, Musk agreed with Tesla’s critics that there was over-reliance on automation and too few human assembly line workers building the Model 3.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced that it had officially missed its goal of making 2,500 Model 3 vehicles a week by the end of the first financial quarter of this year. It will start the second quarter making just 2,000 Model 3s per week, but the company says it still believes it can get to a rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week at the midway point of 2018.

You went full robot. Never go full robot.

Most people don’t care.

Facebook Doesn’t Expect Revenue Impact Over Privacy Concerns:

Facebook Inc. doesn’t expect the recent uproar over its users’ digital privacy to affect sales significantly, a top advertising executive for the global social-media platform said.

Facebook users largely haven’t changed their privacy settings in the past four weeks amid heightened scrutiny over how it shares individual data, Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in London.

“We have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore,” Ms. Everson said on Thursday.

Not surprising in the least.

Most people barely know how iCloud works and how to back up their photos. Now they’re going to go into the Facebook settings and reconfigure how their data is shared? That’s cute.

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Privacy

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Native Apps are Still Better

From The Verge, Web apps are only getting better:

So, what is a Progressive Web App?

Well, for starters, it’s just a website with a special “manifest” file that defines the name of the app, the icon for the home screen, and whether or not the app should show the typical browser UI or just take over the full screen. Users can add any website with a manifest file to their home screen or their Start menu and launch it like a regular mobile or desktop app.

But instead of just loading a website from the internet, a Progressive Web App is typically cached on your device so it has some sort of offline functionality. That could be anything ranging from saving the JavaScript and CSS so the website simply loads faster, on up to saving everything the user does locally like a traditional app.

Progressive Web Apps, importantly, can also support push notifications and other background work due to a new web technology called “service workers.” Service workers can help cache new content and synchronize local changes to a remote server, which keeps Progressive Web Apps as up-to-date as a typical website, while staying as responsive as a native app.

Right now the best example of a Progressive Web App is the Twitter Lite client. It’s fast, minimal, and even has a toggle so you can minimize data usage. Some online stores and publications have also taken advantage of the snappy performance of PWAs. I’ve actually been playing a minimal 2048 clone PWA on my iPhone for the last week. It works offline and remembers my high score between sessions. Sometimes it even saves the game state so I can resume a long run, but it’s not perfect.

In 2007, before the introduction of the App Store for iOS (then iPhone OS), Steve Jobs promised developers the power of writing web apps for iPhone. Developers didn’t buy it. Fast forward 11 years to now and I still don’t think many are buying it.

I’m happy web apps are getting better but native apps still have the upper hand.

Teens prefer iPhones.

Business Insider reports on something we already know: Teenagers prefer iPhone to Android:

American teenagers continue to deeply prefer Apple’s iPhone to phones running Android.

82% of teens of teens currently own an iPhone, according to Piper Jaffray’s “Teens Survey,” which questions thousands of kids across 40 states with an average age of 16.

That’s up from 78% in last fall, and it’s the highest percentage of teen iPhone ownership Piper’s seen in its survey.

I’m suspicious of any teen carrying an Android phone. They’re not to be trusted.

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Consumer, Product

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“Garbage collection was No. 1 under ISIS”

From The New York Times, We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long:

What began as a cosmetic change in Mr. Hamoud’s office soon turned into a wholesale transformation.

The militants sent female employees home for good and closed the day care center. They shuttered the office’s legal department, saying disputes would now be handled according to God’s law alone.

And they did away with one of the department’s daily duties — checking an apparatus, placed outside, to measure precipitation. Rain, they said, was a gift from Allah — and who were they to measure his gift?

Employees were also told they could no longer shave, and they had to make sure the leg of their trousers did not reach the ankle.

Glossy pamphlets, like the one below, pinpointed the spot on the calf where the hem of the garb worn by the companions of the Prophet around 1,400 years ago was said to have reached.

I forgot how awesome religion is.

But wait, ISIS runs a ruthless but clean ship:

Mr. Hamoud, who is known as “Abu Sara,” or Father of Sara, gave in and bought a niqab for his daughter.

As he walked to and from work, Mr. Hamoud began taking side streets to dodge the frequent executions that were being carried out in traffic circles and public squares. In one, a teenage girl accused of adultery was dragged out of a minivan and forced to her knees. Then a stone slab was dropped onto her head. On a bridge, the bodies of people accused of being spies swung from the railing.

But on the same thoroughfares, Mr. Hamoud noticed something that filled him with shame: The streets were visibly cleaner than they had been when the Iraqi government was in charge.

Omar Bilal Younes, a 42-year-old truck driver whose occupation allowed him to crisscross the caliphate, noticed the same improvement. “Garbage collection was No. 1 under ISIS,” he said, flashing a thumbs-up sign.

So hey, you’ll have the occasional head smashed with a big stone, but things are going to be squeaky clean.

Categories:

Humanity, Military

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Dumb Fucks

Jean-Louis Gassée posted another great Monday Morning Note, Mark Zuckerberg Thinks We’re Idiots:

The message is clear: Zuckerberg thinks we’re idiots. How are we to believe Facebook didn’t know — and derived benefits — from the widespread abuse of user data by its developers. We just became aware of the Cambridge Analytica cockroach…how many more are under the sink? In more lawyerly terms: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

A company’s culture emanates from the top and it starts early. In 2004, the man who was in the process of creating Facebook allegedly called Harvard people who entrusted him with their emails, text messages, pictures, and addresses “dumb fucks”. Should we charitably assume he was joking, or ponder the revelatory power of such cracks?

I deleted my Facebook account last week like (a lot of? a few?) others, but as I mentioned on Twitter, I’m not naive.

My newsfeed has been full of junk, memes, opinions, and ignorant political rants for too long and this Cambridge Analytics scandal was just the extra push I needed to do want I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time.

Humans drink and drive.

Uber halts self-driving tests after pedestrian killed in Arizona:

A female pedestrian was killed after being struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Arizona, according to ABC 15. In response, Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars from public roads in the state as well as in the cities of San Francisco, Toronto, and Pittsburgh.

The crash occurred near Mill Avenue and Curry Road early Monday morning in Tempe, Arizona, police confirm. The Uber vehicle was headed northbound when a woman walking across the street. The woman was taken to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries. Early reports suggested that she may have been a bicyclist, but that was not the case. Police have identified her as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.

Uber confirms that the vehicle was traveling in autonomous mode with a safety driver behind the wheel during the crash. That would make the pedestrian one of the first known victims of a crash involving a self-driving car.

It’s horrible that someone was killed from a self-driving car, but everyone needs to chill. In the long run autonomous vehicles are going to be way better drivers than humans.

Humans text their girlfriends and boyfriends while they drive. Humans drink and drive. Humans drive angry. Humans fall asleep at the wheel. Humans don’t pay attention. Robots do none of these things. I can’t wait until stupid humans aren’t in front of the wheel anymore.

We’ve had 100 years of practice driving. Self-driving cars? Not quite as much time, so let’s give the technology a chance to get better (and eventually surpass our skills).

Categories:

Technology, Vehicle

‘Tis a silly place.

WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook:

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

“It is time,” Acton wrote, adding the hashtag #deletefacebook. Acton, who is worth $6.5 billion, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment.

I deleted my Facebook account 2 days ago. When I talk about Facebook, I’m usually talking about the ‘face’ of Facebook — the newsfeed/homepage. It’s just junky. It’s been that way for a long time. I almost exclusively talk with my close friends in a private group we set up. I ignore everything else.

I’m not convinced Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the leadership at Facebook have backbones.