Apple’s New Differential Privacy Feature Is Opt-In ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

First and foremost, as with all of Apple’s data collection, there is an option to opt out of sharing data with the company. Differential data collection is entirely opt in and users can decide whether or not to send data to Apple.

I’ve seen concern in my Twitter timeline that this collection of self-selecting users could result in biased data. And while that’s inevitably true, I’m not sure if it will result in data that’s unusable or uninformative.

Pairing Over Lightning ➝

John Gruber:

Spitball: What if Apple is planning on Bluetooth earbuds that include a Lightning jack, like the Pencil? Plug them in to the device you want to pair them with, tap “Pair”, and you’re done. Easy to charge, too.

I seem to remember Apple selling another iPhone accessory that automatically paired over Bluetooth in a similar fashion.

Push to Ulysses Version 1.1 ➝

I’ve published a small update to my Push to Ulysses workflow. The new version uses my new writing template — originally discussed in Launch Ulysses Workflow — and makes use of Workflow 1.5’s Ulysses integration.

The Primary OS ➝

Ben Brooks:

But then I sat there and cleared dozens of notifications on macOS, closed applications which start up with the system for seemingly no reason. Updated apps. And a bunch of other shit.

I lost 30 minutes to just managing my Mac that morning.

I’m slowly coming to the same realization as Ben. Managing a Mac requires a lot of overhead and I’m doing almost everything in my power to minimize the chore associated with them. I haven’t gone iOS-only, I still have a head-less Mac mini that acts as my home media server, but the vast majority of my day-to-day work is done on my iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2.

Build, Get Rejected by Apple, Ship Anyway ➝

Préshit Deorukhkar, writing on Medium about Homescreen.me’s App Store rejection:

Apple executives explained to us that we cannot showcase a homescreen springboard image within the app — stating that the springboard was Apple’s IP and it was against Apple’s Brand guidelines.

The rejection was not only disappointing and heart-breaking for us, as we had put several months of hard work into the app, but we also found the reason very hard to believe.

It seems ludicrous that Apple would reject an app like this. But I’m glad the team didn’t let it stop them — they shipped a fully revamped version of the site instead.

I uploaded my iPhone home screen and Watch face to the service yesterday morning. I’m not sure if I’ll begin using this rather than just uploading a screenshot to Twitter, but I like the concept. And hopefully they’ll add support for iPad home screens soon.

But I have an additional feature request — home screen history. If I’m using the service regularly, I don’t want previous iterations of my home screen to disappear into the ether. What if, in addition to sharing your current home screen, Homescreen.me could serve as a personal historical record by saving all older uploads as well.

Préshit mentions that home screen histories was something the team set out to build for the native app and I really hope they’re working on it. That’s the one feature that would compel me to continue uploading to the service.

Update: Préshit mentioned me on Twitter noting that the ability to view older home screen uploads was already built into the iOS app. This makes their App Store rejection even more heartbreaking. But the good news is, version history is built into their backend now. And all that’s left is to integrate it into their frontend user interface — this feature’s going to be great.

Apple Is Discontinuing Its Thunderbolt Display ➝

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Apple today announced that it is discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display, the large external display many use to connect to Macbooks or other Macs for extra screen real estate. This is very likely to fuel speculation (which has been ongoing) that Apple will soon launch a 4k or 5k version of the display.

What if Apple isn’t planning to release a successor at all? Think about it, when was the last time Apple announced that a product was being discontinued without even announcing a new version?

The End of the Headphone Jack Is Not the Start of Proprietary Headphones ➝

Matt Birchler, on Nilay Patel’s pro-headphone-jack piece:

What I do know is that every single time Apple has ever removed something from their products, the same chorus of people rise up and say “it’s too soon!” But a year or so later everyone is doing the same thing and it turns out it was for the best.

I don’t know if 2016 is the exact right time to remove this port, but Apple has a pretty good track record at getting their timing on the nose for these things.

Apple’s Interconnected Platforms ➝

Riccardo Mori, commenting on Rick Tetzeli’s piece for Fast Company:

During the WWDC keynote, as Apple executives were outlining some of the key new features of the upcoming versions of watchOS, tvOS, Mac OS and iOS, I easily noticed a common denominator — Apple is introducing new features whose main purpose is to fix some user interface or user interaction annoyances for each of those platforms. And such improvements will not only affect a single platform, but — as Tetzeli points out — they’ll improve and solidify the interconnection between all four of them. For the first time, while watching the keynote, I found myself thinking It’d really be nice to also have an Apple TV and an Apple Watch now, the two Apple devices I usually had a very limited interest in.

It’s always been the case that Apple’s devices really shined when they were surrounded by other Apple products. But Apple seems poised to take that to an entirely new level with the release of watchOS 3, tvOS 10, macOS Sierra, and iOS 10 this fall.

A few days ago, my wife and I were discussing Apple’s typical, yearly product announcement schedule — during our weekly drive to the grocery store. My main point, at the time, was that Apple shouldn’t be announcing major upgrades to all four of their platforms at the same event.

I suggested the idea of Apple announcing major new versions of macOS and tvOS at an event in the spring and saving iOS and watchOS for WWDC. This would help spread out all the software-specific talk and leave room for hardware announcements at both events. But after reading Riccardo’s take, I’ve changed my tune.

Apple’s platforms are only going to become more tightly connected over time. This type of software development — where engineers from multiple teams work together on new features — requires a cohesive release schedule. The only way new, Continuity-like features will work is if both operating systems support the feature. And users won’t want to wait an extra three months for one of their platforms to catch up.

Regarding Headphone Jacks and Stupidity ➝

Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

Oh look, I won this argument in one shot. For years the entertainment industry has decried what they call the “analog loophole” of headphone jacks, and now we’re making their dreams come true by closing it.

Restricting audio output to a purely digital connection means that music publishers and streaming companies can start to insist on digital copyright enforcement mechanisms.

Good job, Nilay. You won the argument about a rumored device by citing a purely speculative feature.

But let’s think about this logically. How long will it take for the majority of cars on the road to have Bluetooth, Lightning cables, or some other input that would be compatible with this mythical copy protection that you speak of? Ten years? Twenty? Remember, the average age of cars on US roads is over eleven years old. I think it’s a safe bet that Apple isn’t closing the analog loophole anytime soon.

Being able to output audio to your car’s stereo is just too important for the music industry to lose. Apple knows it, Spotify knows it, and every record company knows it. Based on that alone, if Apple does remove the headphone jack from their iPhones, there’s still no indication that they’ll ever block support for headphone adapters. It wouldn’t be in their best interest to.

Here’s the thing, if you’re truly concerned about copy protection, I would encourage you to cancel any streaming music subscriptions you have and only buy DRM-free music. Don’t whine about the death of the headphone jack and what that could mean in the future — streaming services are already using copy protection. Instead, do exactly what Nilay suggests at the end of this piece — vote with your dollars.

With watchOS 3, Apple Watch Gets a Do-Over ➝

Jason Snell, referencing Craig Federighi’s comments on the most recent episode of The Talk Show:

You may not remember this, but before the Apple Watch came out, there were many rumors that it wasn’t able to get through a day without a charge. It’s clear that Apple made battery life a top priority, perhaps even the top priority: This thing better last all day. And so everyone was incredibly conservative with power and memory.

The result: They overshot. Most of the people I know now report that they end their day with their Apple Watches reporting 40 or 50 percent of remaining battery life. Federighi admitted that there was a lot of extra memory and battery life available to them when building watchOS 3, because they overshot so much. And that’s why watchOS seems almost impossibly better than watchOS 2, given that it’s running on the same hardware.

I had a hunch that this was the case and I’m more than happy to have it confirmed.

Twitter Launches Engage App ➝

Jason Abbruzzese, writing for Mashable:

Twitter has launched a new app — Engage — that offers people with big following a way to more easily handle their accounts.

It also provides a tool for these Twitter celebs to see only the important people that respond to them — let’s call it a plebe filter.

Just what Twitter needs, an app that results in a higher likelihood that a new user’s message goes unnoticed when they reply to a celebrity. I’m sure this’ll do wonders for user retention.

But if you’re interest in the app, it’s available on the App Store now.

With Game Center App Gone, Invites Are Managed by Messages ➝

AppleInsider:

As detailed by Apple at a session during its Worldwide Developers Conference last week, games will have access to new tools for inviting friends to multiplayer games via the Messages app.

Apple told developers that those already using existing Game Center invitation APIs won’t need to make any code changes for iOS 10. Messages-based invites will automatically replace the old method of inviting friends to play, and anyone can be invited via the Messages app and iCloud.

Thoughts on iOS 10

Last week, I published my thoughts on watchOS 3, tvOS 10, and macOS Sierra. Today, I’ll be giving my rundown of iOS 10. Conveniently, Apple split their presentation into ten logical chunks and I’ll be tackling each of them individually, in the order they were announced.

User Experience

Apple made some fairly substantial changes to the user experience in iOS 10. There’s a redesigned lock screen, rich notifications, quick interactions with apps, and expanded 3D Touch capabilities. These changes might take some time to get used to, especially the redesigned lock screen, but I think they’re positive changes overall.

The first noticeable difference on the lock screen is the new Raise to Wake feature. Rather than having to press the home or lock button for your devices’ display to turn on, users can simply raise their device to wake it. This will help alleviate some of the problems associated with the second-generation Touch ID sensors which often unlock the device before you have a chance to see notifications.

And speaking of notifications, they’re far more actionable with iOS 10. Replying to messages, accepting calendar invitations, and more can be done without ever leaving the lock screen.

I’m actually really excited about more interactive notifications. I’d never claim that I get a lot of notifications, but I get enough that acting upon them more quickly will greatly improve my experience on iOS. And for anyone who does get a lot of notifications, clearing them in Notification Center is even easier. Pressing on the clear button gives you the option to clear all notifications at once rather than having to clear each day individually. This has been available on the Apple Watch since launch and it is a great feature.

Apple’s made changes to Control Center, too. You can now swipe to reveal a second pane which houses audio playback controls. I hated this the first time I heard about it — I didn’t like the idea of adding an additional step between me and whatever control I was in search of. But it’s quickly grown on me. Control Center has always been a bit too cluttered for my liking and moving audio controls to a second pane will streamline the design and give Apple a little room to grow if they want to add functionality in the future.

Two changes that I just know will annoy me for a few months after iOS 10’s release is that they’ve moved Today View and the quick access camera gesture on the lock screen. Today View has been moved, spatially, to the left of the lock screen while the camera is to the right of it — swiping from either direction slides the corresponding feature into view. I can already see myself unintentionally accessing Notification Center or Control Center instead of Today View or the camera. Those gestures have become a huge part of the way I interact with my device and it’ll take some time to retrain that muscle memory.

I’m more than happy about the expanding of 3D Touch shortcuts on the home screen, though. I know plenty of users who have already taken to them — even with the relatively limited functionality in iOS 9. It’s never been something that I used regularly, but this added functionality might change that. Pressing an icon on the home screen displays the usual list of shortcuts alongside, what appears to be, the app’s Today View widget. I love Today View widgets and anything that gives me easy access to them is a win in my book.

Siri

Apple is giving third-party developers the ability to extend Siri’s functionality. But unfortunately, it isn’t as all-encompassing as we hoped. Third-party developers will only be able to make use of Siri in the following contexts:

  • Messaging
  • Ride Booking
  • Photo Search
  • Workouts
  • Payments
  • VOIP Calling

That means you’ll be able to initiate a direct message in Tweetbot through Siri, but you won’t be able to start workflows. Apple will undoubtedly continue to expand on the types of third-party apps that can make use of Siri, but for now it’s a bit of a bummer, for users and developers.

QuickType Keyboard

I turned off iOS’s predictive typing bar shortly after its release. At the time I was using an iPhone 5s and it just took up too much screen real estate. Of course, I’m no longer using a 4-inch iPhone — I’ve since upgraded to a 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and I might be willing to give it another go when iOS 10 is released this fall.

I’m simply curious to see whether the “more intelligent suggestions” are as useful as Apple makes them out to be. I like that it can offer up your current location and contact information, but I’m not sure if that’s worth the pixels its displayed on. My hunch is that I’d still rather display more content than add an extra row to my keyboard that’s of questionable utility.

Photos

With iOS 10, Apple is bringing Places and Faces to Photos. This is a feature that has been available for the Mac since the iPhoto days and I’ve been a huge fan of it. But Apple’s doing much more this time around.

Apple is using, what they’re calling, “Advanced Computer Vision” or “deep learning” to analyze all of your photos and find faces, objects, and scenes within them. It has similar functionality to Google Photos, but all of this work is taking place on your device rather than in the cloud to prevent any potential privacy concerns.

You’ll be able to search your photos for locations, objects, and scenes to find exactly what you’re looking for when you need it. In addition to search, Photos will also help you surface collections of images in the new Memories tab based around a specific date, topic, location, person, or groups of people.

Memories provides similar utility to Google Photos’ Assistant feature. Where Memories really shines, though, is in the suggested videos functionality. Not only does it automatically edit together related photos and videos, it offers two sliders that let you choose the tone and duration of the resulting video. That means you can send a short, epic video of your trip to Tahoe to your sister or a longer, happy video to your grandfather — from the exact same collection of photos and videos.

All of this seems pretty impressive and I can’t wait to see how it compares to Google Photos in real world testing. Unfortunately, I won’t be switching to it anytime soon, though. Not until Apple offers a way to store one, unified family photo library in iCloud that syncs between multiple accounts. My wife and I prefer to store all of our photos in a single library. We don’t think of them as “mine” and “yours,” they belong to both of us and we like having access to the entire lot without any user interaction.

Maps

Apple’s mapping app gets a design refresh with iOS 10. The search bar has been moved to the bottom of the display, which is a more substantial change than you’d think given the larger displays of most iPhones sold today. The app now makes proactive suggestions — it might list restaurants around the time you usually have lunch or grocery stores, in the evening, when you usually go shopping.

They’ve also improved the turn-by-turn navigation view with bolder typography and larger icons, making it easier to see at a glance. The biggest change, though, is that developers will be able to build extensions for Maps. Ride sharing and restaurant reservations were the two mentioned by Apple, but I expect we’ll see all kinds of interesting apps once developers get their hands on it.

I don’t use Maps too often, usually just when my wife and I take long road trips to visit family — about two or three times a year. But I’m very happy with the changes Apple has made. I like that Maps will display traffic during navigation and you’ll be able to search along the route for restaurants, gas stations, and so on. In the search results, Maps even tells you how much time will be added to the overall trip with each extra stop. I look forward to using these new features the next time we take the 5-6 hour road trip to visit my sister and her family in Pittsburgh.

Music

The Music app is receiving an “all-new design” in iOS 10. I put that in quotes because the app doesn’t seem all that different to me. I’ll admit that I haven’t used the app for several months — instead, using Ecoute for my music playback. But this looks like nothing more than a new coat of paint rather than improving the app’s usability.

There’s bolder typography and a small handful of items have been moved around in the interface. But beyond these minor changes, it’s still an app that’s focused around renting music rather than playing the music you own. This has been my major complaint about the app since it was redesigned last year and unfortunately, the problem persists.

The one major new feature for Apple Music subscribers will be the addition of lyrics — which is great. A lot of the affection I have for songs comes from the meaning behind the lyrics and my ability to relate to them. I often look up the lyrics when I’m listening to a new album and I’d love to have that information right in my music app.

I will certainly give the new Music app another go when it launches this fall. But from the looks of things, I don’t expect it’ll last more than a few days on my home screen. Until Apple allows me to place the app’s focus back on my music library, I’ll most likely stick to third-party apps like Ecoute and Cesium.

News

The Apple News announcements were given less time than any of the other tentpole features of iOS 10 and are, what I’d consider to be, the most lackluster as well. There’s an all-new design which, like Apple Music, features bolder typography alongside a reorganization of the For You tab — now organized by section. And Apple’s introduced subscriptions which will allow you to read news from premium sources as well — like The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic.

I won’t spend much time analyzing these announcements. News isn’t really for me and I don’t expect it ever will be. But I suspect these are positive changes for those who use the app daily.

HomeKit

Apple is adding a new application for iOS and watchOS this fall, called “Home.” The app allows you to control all of your HomeKit-enabled devices from a single user interface. The app features what they’re calling “Scenes,” which ties together multiple devices and performs a predetermined set of actions all at once — it reminds me of Activities on Logitech Harmony remotes.

The Home app works with Siri and is capable of controlling your HomeKit devices remotely using the Apple TV as an at-home hub. They’ve also added a third pane to Control Center — beyond the aforementioned audio controls — that lets you quickly control your connected devices.

I don’t currently own any HomeKit-enabled accessories, but I’ve been thinking more seriously about them. Up until now, the entire market has felt splintered between multiple standards. But, at least from my perspective, Apple seems to be emerging as the front runner in this space — working with dozens of manufacturers and a few home builders as well. I don’t expect I’ll be hesitant for too much longer — it’s only a matter of time before I start purchasing devices to automate my home.

Phone

There’s some major improvements in store for the Phone app on iOS. I’m most excited about having access to voicemail transcripts. Everyone has that one friend who still calls and leaves voicemails that seem to go on forever. Now, you’ll be able to skim the transcript to get the message rather than listening through two minutes of babbling.

The most far reaching changes, though, involve third-party developers. Apple’s including an extension API in iOS 10 that lets developers build, what amounts to, caller ID apps, VOIP apps that display incoming calls on par with the native phone app, and the ability to integrate into the system’s favorites and recent calls list.

Apple has taken all of the necessary steps to allow users to decide how they prefer to communicate. This means third-party VOIP apps are no longer second-class citizens and, instead, will be treated as peers with Phone.app. This is the first instance in which Apple is allowing users to, for all intents and purpose, fully change the default app for a given function.

This is a major milestone — and leaves me wondering if we’ll see this expanding next year with iOS 11. I’d love to be able to set a default email client so that when I tap on a “mailto” link on a webpage it would open Dispatch rather than Mail.

Messages

If there’s an app on iOS that hasn’t received the attention it deserves, it’s Messages. The application is the most used iOS app, but has remained almost entirely unchanged since the launch of iMessages in 2011. Apple has remedied that in a big way with iOS 10.

Apple’s adding rich links with artwork and in-line video, easier access to the camera and photo library, emoji-word swapping, bubble effects, Tapback, handwritten messages, and Digital Touch. That’s an impressive list and will help keep Messages as the primary communication tool in the face of other growing platforms — Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Telegram, etc.

Rich links is probably my favorite of the bunch. I send a lot of links to my friends in Messages and just a raw URL always felt a little anemic to me. These rich links will give the recipient an indication of where they’re headed when they tap on it. Or in the case of video, they’ll be able to watch without having to visit the webpage at all.

I’m also excited about the addition of Tapback, which lets you attach a heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, “haha”, “!!”, or question mark to another message within the thread. This will help solve the problem of having to reply with an “ok” when you want to let the other person know that you saw their message but don’t really have anything to add.

I love that there’s support for Digital Touch. Now, presumably, I’ll be able to send taps and heartbeats to my wife from my Watch, even though she doesn’t own one.

But I can’t say I’m too excited about the bubble effects and changes to emojis. Bubble effects have the potential to become a bit obnoxious and annoying if used too frequently. I don’t need a complicated animation every time I send a message and I hope everyone I know feels the same way.

As for emoji, I don’t even have the emoji keyboard enabled on any of my iOS devices. The problem, for me, is that I have a really hard time understanding what the person is trying to convey with their emoji. I often end up asking my wife to read the message so that she can confirm whether someone’s being sarcastic or legitimately happy about something. Apple adding emoji predictions and the ability to swap words in an outgoing message for its corresponding emoji might result in me receiving more emoji-containing messages — I can’t say I’m too 😃 about that.

After the above Messages features were demoed, Craig Federighi returned to announce iMessage Apps. With iOS 10, developers will be able to build apps that integrate into Messages for things like stickers, payments, restaurant ordering, animations, and more. Much like third-party keyboards, I don’t expect I’ll ever use these applications. But the idea of building a sticker pack without ever having to write any code — something that Federighi mentioned was possible during the announcement — is intriguing. This opens up a whole new world for artists who might not have considered it because of the barrier to entry.

Wrap-Up

This year’s WWDC was an overall success. The presentation didn’t feature the spectacle associated with a new hardware announcement, but that was more than made up for by the sheer number of new features that hadn’t been confirmed by rumor sites beforehand.

And it goes without saying, but this year’s event was a massive improvement over last year’s, which featured one of the most awkward announcements I’ve ever seen at a WWDC keynote — Apple Music. This year’s presentation didn’t drag on forever and was packed with announcements to keep viewers’ attention. If I had any complaints at all, it’s that they went a little too fast. Sometimes it was difficult to digest all of the new features and, for me at least, required a second viewing to take it all in.

With plenty of announcements for all four of their major platforms, nearly everyone who owns an Apple product will be receiving a substantial software update this fall. And I look forward to the public beta next month, when I’ll be able to get my hands on this software to try myself.

‘Playgrounds Is Genuinely a Full Swift Interpreter Built Into an iPad App’ ➝

A great piece by Fraser Speirs regarding Apple’s newly announced Swift Playgrounds app and whether the language is good for learning to program.

Using the iPhone Naked ➝

Roberto Mateu spent a week without a case on his iPhone 6s:

I have to say… while still slippery as hell, forcing myself to use the phone without a case is very nice. It’s so much easier to get in and out of my pocket, and feels much more sleek in the hand. I also enjoy being able to reach the screen borders for easier gestures. It has made me use the 3D Touch of the left corner to switch apps much more natural than before.

I’ve used various models of iPhone since the day of the original’s launch in 2007. I have never used a case on any of them and have never regretted it. In my honest opinion, it’s the only way to go.

The Talk Show With Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi ➝

From the show notes:

Recorded in front of a live audience in San Francisco, John Gruber is joined by Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi to discuss the news from WWDC: WatchOS 3, MacOS 10.12 Sierra, iOS 10, and more.

I tried to watch the show live, as it was recorded Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the stream kept going down and I ended up having to find a stream on Periscope to see it to the end. But the video and audio quality were piss poor, at best, and I missed a big chunk in the middle while I was searching for a bootleg stream.

Luckily, John Gruber has now published a video of the episode which I’ll be watching later tonight.

Split View Safari in iOS 10 ➝

One feature that isn’t going to make the cut in my piece on iOS 10 is the ability to view two Safari tabs in Split View. The biggest reason is, I just don’t have much to say about it other than, I want it now.

Apple Kills the Game Center App, but the Service Will Continue ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

With the introduction of iOS 10, Apple will finally allow users to delete the pre-installed apps – like Compass, Stocks, Tips, Maps, Watch, and more – from their smartphones and tablets. But there’s one app that you won’t need to remove: Game Center. Apple confirms that Game Center will continue as a service, but it will no longer be available as a standalone application on their devices.

From what I gather, Game Center leaderboards, friends, and challenges will still be available. But developers will have to build those views into their application rather than users having an all-encompassing app for those interactions.

Regarding macOS Sierra’s Optimize Storage Feature ➝

I had an interesting thought on Twitter Wednesday night, why didn’t macOS Sierra’s Optimize Storage feature come to iOS first? With as many 16GB device owners as there are, it seems like this feature would have been met with a great deal of enthusiasm if it came to iOS. Just think about how many users are clamoring for a solution to other storage creep.

Facebook Is Wrong, Text Is Deathless ➝

Tim Carmody, writing on kottke.org:

Text is surprisingly resilient. It’s cheap, it’s flexible, it’s discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there’s nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a matter of preference or necessity. And it’s endlessly computable — you can search it, code it. You can use text to make it do other things.

In short, all of the same technological advances that enable more and more video, audio, and immersive VR entertainment also enable more and more text. We will see more of all of them as the technological bottlenecks open up.

The idea that text will eventually be supplanted by video is foolish. No matter what technological advancements our world lives through, nothing will ever be as discrete, digestible, and approachable as text. The creation and consumption of it will never be matched by another medium. At least, not in our lifetime.