“Twitter is shit when it comes to meme”

Young people still love Twitter — as screenshots on Instagram:

“You’d think, ‘I have a viral account on Instagram. Almost 50,000 people pay attention to me. Surely they care about what I’m tweeting?’” says Hartwig. “But people absolutely do not give a single shit about what you’re tweeting,” she says. “When I post on Instagram, I can expect about 2,000 likes a post. With Twitter, I expect about two retweets and 20 to 30 likes.” She says Twitter rewards trends and current social relevancy, while Instagram offers more topical flexibility.

In theory, Twitter should make sharing content easy; retweets are a vital part of its model, and you can share anything with one click. Going viral on Twitter is also a double-edged sword: even if you pop off a good joke, its success is unlikely to reward you with substantial new followers, and most meme creators are looking to build a fan base, not just go viral for 15 minutes. Having viral tweets can often make the platform virtually unusable, not only because of spam, but due to the personal harassment and dogpiling that often accompanies it.

This sounds very similar to my experiences with Twitter and Instagram. I’ve had my @combustion Twitter account since 2007 and for the last 4-5 years I’ve been hovering around 330 followers, whereas on my Instagram @combustionchamber, I’ve gone from ~500 followers in 2017 to ~1100 followers this year. Admittedly, I put more effort into maintaining my Instagram account, but my effort and focus is rewarded with more followers who appreciate my obsession for snapping shots of the old cars I find on the streets.

There’s a simplicity to both viewing and creating content on Instgram that I think makes it much more approachable than Twitter, regardless of age. In light of the news last week that Twitter is replacing their head of product (again) it should be no surprise their platform seems like a shitshow with no clear focus or objectives.

Let’s also not forget they dropped support for their Mac desktop client earlier this year. Luckily Tweetbot still exists.

Categories:

Community, Product

Design Anorexia

iFixIt’s Kyle Wiens wrote a scathing and eye-opening piece on the Macbook Pro Keyboard fiasco:

Thin may be in, but it has tradeoffs. Ask any Touch Bar owner if they would trade a tenth of a millimeter for a more reliable keyboard. No one who has followed this Apple support document instructing them to shake their laptop at a 75 degree angle and spray their keyboard with air in a precise zig-zag pattern will quibble over a slightly thicker design.

This is design anorexia: making a product slimmer and slimmer at the cost of usefulness, functionality, serviceability, and the environment.

A repairable pro laptop is not an unreasonable ask. Apple has a history of great keyboards—they know how to make them. There are very successful laptop manufacturers who consistently earn 10/10 on our repairability scale. Apple fans are already making noise about the dearth of new Macs, especially upgradable options for professionals. Fortunately, Apple seems to be listening with their new warranty program.

I’ve been aware of the keyboard problem in the latest version of the Macbooks since last year, so I’ve known to steer clear of them and stick with my Mid-2015 Macbook Pro.

Aside from the dust problem, I know from riding the Apple Shuttle for an entire year in 2017 that these keyboards are also annoyingly loud. When a coworker told me she couldn’t stand it when her husband was working on his Macbook in the same room as her, I thought she was clearly being dramatic. It couldn’t be that bad.

I was wrong, it could be that bad.

It makes me sad to see certain Apple products as something to avoid (opposed to my iPhone X which is amazing). What’s naive to do, though, is jump on the This-would-have-never-happened-when-Steve-Jobs-was-alive bandwagon. Antennagate happened under Steve, as did MobileMe.

I think Apple is suffering from the hubris a $900 billion company exudes that continues to be the most imitated in the tech industry, so it’s taking more cold water in their faces to course correct when a product is broken. But the sky is not falling and Apple is not doomed. As Kyle notes, Apple knows how to make great keyboards.

The only thing we can do now is wait and see what comes next.

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Product, Technology

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Vivo Nex

What’s the dumbest phone of 2018 (so far)?

The Vivo Nex with it’s ‘pop-out selfie camera’ because your stupid face is so important:

Having a bezel-less pocket computer is so important to Android OEMs that they’re willing jump through ridiculous hoops to achieve it.

Congrats, Vivo. Mission accomplished.

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Product

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Essentially Cancelled

From The Verge, The Essential Phone 2 has reportedly been canceled:

Essential has canceled plans to develop a second phone and is exploring selling off the entire company, according to Bloomberg. Much of the details remain up in the air. Talks of a sale sound like they aren’t very far along, and the report says that Essential still has plans for future products.

One thing that does sound certain is that Essential’s second phone — at least as it was originally planned — isn’t going to happen. Bloomberg says the development was canceled and that engineers are now working on a smart home product, which is supposed to be released next year. That may be the Echo competitor that Essential announced a year ago, but which we haven’t heard a word about since.

The Essential Phone shipped months and months after they said it would be available last May, and then when it did launch, they cut the price $200.

Andy Rubin created the Android operating system, and he came to market with a decent phone, but the Android market is very crowded and Rubin clearly was not able to convince people to buy his phone over a Google or Samsung phone.

Categories:

Business, Product

The minimalist smartphones aren’t the problem, you are.

From The Verge, There’s no perfect minimalist phone — yet:

The Jelly’s other big drawback is battery life: there is none. The phone lost almost 20 percent of its juice within 15 minutes as I downloaded four apps. At an 83 percent charge, the phone told me that I has just over four hours of life left, and even that turned out to be overly-optimistic. Eventually, I learned to carry around an external battery pack with me just to make it through the day. I’d never felt less minimalist.

None of these minimalist phones are the problem. Michael Zelenko’s mindset is the problem. He’s downloading multiple apps to his baby phone. You haven’t quit your drug, Zelenko. The point is not to use apps. I believe there is market for phones like these but this isn’t the review they deserve.

Then he gives the Nokia 3310 a try:

Open these up and you’ll be banished to the mid-2000s, moving a clunky mouse cursor up and down with an old school direction pad. It took me 10 minutes to pull up Twitter and complete my two-factor authentication, only to accidentally leave the web client and be faced with embarking on the process all over again. I gave up. The apps are so hard to use they may as well be nonexistent, which suited my purposes just fine.

Hey guess what? They have these things called smartphones with big, super-high resolution screens and predictive QWERTY keyboards, and apps, and bigger batteries. Stop trying to put a Toyota Corolla on the racetrack.

I deleted my Facebook account back in March. What I didn’t do after deleting my account was go out and look for a Facebook replacement. I deleted it because it was creating unnecessary noise in my life. I immediately felt lighter without my Facebook account.

I will agree with Zelenko that all these phones have usability issues, but those issues are fixable.

If you’re debating whether to ditch your iPhone or Android phone, I’d first recommend what I’ve done as a first step and see how much it helps. I’ve turned off the majority of notifications on my iPhone. Email and Messages are the only apps that have the badge app icon enabled for unread message counts. My calendar app (I use Timepage) is the only app allowed to use pop-up banners for upcoming events. I’ve muted Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Waze, and every other app on my phone bothering me.

I’ve taught my smartphone baby not to interrupt daddy when he’s in the middle of doing shit and it’s been working out great for the last 3-4 years.

Blloc

Blloc is a plain and minimalistic smartphone combining a power saving operating system with efficient hardware and an easy to use messaging platform, it’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool that you can rely on every day.

Blloc is one of those products that seems like an awesome idea in the brainstorming room, but once executed finds very few actual customers who are willing to drop cash on it. The last phone I said this about was Google’s Project Ara back in 2014. Two years later Project Ara was scrapped.

I might be wrong. Blloc might find a niche, but the platform war is over. Google and Apple won and I see no way Microsoft can get back in the game.

Oh yeah, one more thing: no demonstration video? Suspect.

Categories:

Mobility, Product

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.

Categories:

Consumer, Product

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Huawei’s Innovative CrotchCam

When companies copy Apple’s software and hardware, what I find the most interesting isn’t what they copied, but where they deviated and implemented their own ideas. These deviations reveal the true design taste and intelligence these ripoff artists are capable of when left to use their own brains.

The latest example from Asia is Huawei’s new MacBook Pro imitation, the MateBook X Pro. The Verge’s Sam Byford has a first look video of it on YouTube. First off they’ve got a solid, derivative name.

The MateBook X Pro looks almost identical to Apple’s MacBook Pro. It’s super thin, and it has the same unibody aluminum frame first introduced by Apple in the MacBook Air in 2008. Shit, they even use the same name for the dark grey color as Apple, “Space Grey”.

The primary design deviation on the MateBook is the black bezel around the screen. It’s significantly smaller than the MacBook Pro’s bezel. Of course every design decision comes with a tradeoff. In this case, reducing the bezel around the screen to be almost nonexistent required Huawei to find a new home for the webcam, which is normally positioned inside the bezel at the top and center above the screen.

Their solution? Hide that littler bugger inside a key on the keyboard:

I think this is hilarious, but not because of where they put it. It’s hilarious because from what I can tell on The Verge’s video, it’s practically pointed at your crotch. Byford has to hunch down to get his face in view.

Do they test and troubleshoot products at Huawei? It seems to me realizing the webcam isn’t pointed at your face is not only pretty easy to catch, but also to fix. Just angle it up a few millimeters, right?

UPDATE: It looks like Dell doesn’t approve of eye level cams either.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Apple continues to eat the watch industry’s lunch.

Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined:

Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.

Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.

That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.

Another industry who’s lunch Apple is eating.

Keep the success of Apple Watch in mind when you read stories about apps ditching it.

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Apple Watch doesn’t need more apps.

Slack is the latest app to ditch the Apple Watch:

Like Twitter, Amazon, and Google Maps before it, Slack is ditching its Apple Watch app. The team chat and collaboration platform for businesses quietly announced the news via an update to its iOS app. But, that doesn’t mean Slack will disappear entirely from your wrist.

You’ll still be able to respond to incoming messages on your Apple Watch courtesy of rich notifications — all that’s absent is the ability to view unread mentions. So, you may not be missing much after all, which sums up the essential problem with dedicated Apple Watch apps.

This move makes sense. The Apple Watch isn’t the iPhone.

For me Apple Watch is a glanceable, health-tracking, message notifier that unlocks my MacBook when I wake it up (my favorite feature).

I have no need for the apps on my Apple Watch to mirror the ones on my iPhone.

Categories:

Interface, Mobility, Product

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In-display fingerprint sensors. Great idea, but we’ve moved on.

Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov tried the first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor on phones made by Chinese company Vivo.

It seems to work great, and I always appreciate the refinement of old tech (even in the face of newer, better alternatives), but now that I’ve gotten used to FaceID, TouchID feels antiquated.

It’s great when I pick up my iPhone X and generic notifications expand to reveal their full transcripts when my face has been authenticated. I don’t have to touch anything.

My guess is companies like Vivo will tout in-display fingerprint sensors as a differentiator to the iPhone, but it will be interesting to see if people bite.

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Product, Technology

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Apple Offers iPhone Battery Replacements

Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdown drama, will offer $29 battery replacements for a year:

Apple just published a letter to customers apologizing for the “misunderstanding” around older iPhones being slowed down, following its recent admission that it was, in fact, slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” says the company. “We apologize.”

Apple says in its letter that batteries are “consumable components,” and is offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 — a discount of $50 from the usual replacement cost. Apple’s also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018, so that users are aware of when their batteries are no longer capable of supporting maximum phone performance.

It’s bullshit Apple had to be called out this, but they’ve apologized and offered a reasonably priced solution.

I just upgraded from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone X, but I think it’s still worth it to replace the battery on my 6 Plus.

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Product, Technology

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Butt-hurt Nerds

Why did Apple let a few YouTubers scoop the first iPhone X reviews?:

Apple’s iPhone X — its most anticipated new phone in a very long time — goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3.

So sometime this week, as usual, you’ll be able to read and watch a bunch of serious-sounding reviews, as Professional Gadget Reviewers critique everything from bezels to battery life.

But Apple did something different this year. It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven’t heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel’s Steven Levy write a “first first impression of the iPhone X” post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)

These videos, published by channels including Booredatwork.com, UrAvgConsumer, Soldier Knows Best, and sneaker/streetwear blog HighSnobiety, are a little braggy, mostly positive (“man, it’s pretty good!”) and don’t feel like gadget reviews at all. For many of us, they won’t replace the utility of more sophisticated reviews, which are supposed to tell us whether the iPhone X is worth our $1,000. They’re not great videos, frankly.

I love that the nerds are butt-hurt that Apple gave the scoop to some “YouTubers” instead of the established tech sites.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber laid the sarcasm on thick when he posted links this morning to all the YouTuber reviews (here, here, and here).

Admittedly, the YouTuber reviews are shitty, but I like seeing peeps in tech community throw their temper tantrums.

Relax, nerds. The legit reviews will be out soon enough.

Categories:

Product, Technology